Tinashe is being more candid than ever about her artistic evolution and her controversial collaborations during her time with RCA, the label she left in 2019.
In a new interview with the Zach Sang Show, Tinashe was asked whether she thought her singles with disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly and Chris Brown — who has long been criticized for assaulting Rihanna in 2009 and has also been accused of numerous other violent crimes since then — were a result of her label’s faulty strategy to launch her career. At the time of their release, the singles resulted in immense scrutiny pointed at Tinashe for working with men who had a history of violence against women.
Before speaking up, Tinashe appeared stunned and responded with a laugh: “You think I wanted [to do those songs]? I literally block out that R. Kelly song from my mind — I forget that it even exists,” she said. “That is so embarrassing. That is so unreal that I even have a song with R. Kelly.”
The singer-songwriter shared her seventh full-length studio effort, a 7-song collection of R&B-leaning pop titled “BB/ANG3L,” on Sept. 8 via Ricky Reed’s Nice Life Records (which also houses Lizzo), but has long been vocal about her distaste for major labels after struggling under RCA as an up-and-coming artist.
She told Sang, “I was so young too, which is crazy because I feel like I did that song when I just signed to that label… I was probably like 20.” Sang then brought up the backlash Tinashe received as a result of the collaborations, saying the “public perceives it as you doing willingly,” and acknowledged the fact that Tinashe had a “lack a lot of control.”
“Especially when it comes to singles,” Tinashe continued. “Like for example that song with with Chris, that was a song that… we all wanted it to be this big moment — this big single. So I feel like in [the label’s] mind, they were like ‘You need the support.’ And [Chris] was like their biggest artist that they had on rhythmic radio at the time.”
Brown appeared as a featured artist on Tinashe’s 2015 single “Player,” although the song failed to make much movement on the charts. “I was like, ‘Well, this is a pop song so I really don’t feel like we should put Chris on it like that. I don’t like that. That doesn’t compute to me.’”
A representative for RCA did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.