When I found out that Timbaland had signed the highly buzzed Tink to his label, Mosley Music Group, I was excited. If you heard her mixtapes, Winter’s Diary 1 and 2, or anything she released via her SoundCloud at the time, you knew the Chicago teen had something special to her. Something, that if cultivated and shared correctly, could give hip-hop a much-needed new female star.
Given his statute, Timbaland is certainly capable of helping Tink become that star. He is the man who took Aaliyah to a heightened level of creativity; Justin Timberlake into superstardom; artists like Keri Hilson, Nelly Furtado, and others to have their moments.
Later, I heard the first Timbaland-produced offering from Tink, “Around the Clock,” and thought about some of the other acts who found less success with Timbaland—namely Ms. Jade. Then I became afraid not long after. If you’re under the age of 25, you presumably haven’t the slightest clue about the Philadelphia native or her one and only major studio album, Girl Interrupted.
While promoting the 2002 album, Ms. Jade said of her music: “Most music has a message, and as an artist I wanted to throw that out there. I’m a real person, and I know what it’s like going through stuff like relationships and working hard. It’s cool to dance, but you also have to let people know that you work hard for what you’ve got.”
I couldn’t help but notice the similarities when I read Tink tell CR Fashion Book recently, “I feel like I’m the voice for my generation, especially for women. My album is a day in the life of a normal human being, and that’s why I know it’s going to connect because I’m not dancing around the truth.”
Though one could rightly argue that this sort of phrasing is standard, the two do have the commonality in trusting the same man to achieve that mission. And I am beginning to think both may be wrong in doing so. Timbaland’s musical legacy cannot be denied, nor would I try to say otherwise as a major fan. Still, sometimes two good people don’t mesh well together.
As of now, Tink has released a few songs with Timbaland and the results have been mixed at best.
“Ratchet Commandments” appears intended to be Tink’s audition as spokesperson of a generation. She’ll have other shots, but she struck out hard on the first swing. This is not “Doo Wop (That Thing)” as it so clearly seeks to be. In 2015, I’m not sure the world needs another woman bemoaning women with “loose pussies” and condemning men for “acting too feminine.” Well, the world of editors and writers needing to provide content might, but I imagine Tink doesn’t want to become a Thinkpiece Queen. So as far as her messaging goes, we already have garbage men in music feeding us that kind of trash. They’ve got it covered, girl.
Others—“Tell the Children” and “Around the Clock”—are OK at best. There is her verse on “Movin’ Bass” that’s impressive because of her talent, but that will only live on the Internet as it was not included on Rick Ross’ official release.
Of course, there is “Million,” a cover of the Aaliyah classic “One in a Million,” produced by Timbaland. It’s a decent cover for a difficult song (for numerous reasons) to take on. On the choice to re-imagine Aaliyah’s gem, Timbaland said, “I don’t touch any of my sister’s records. I don’t touch Baby Girl’s records—you know that’s Aaliyah. She spoke to me in my sleep and said, ‘She’s the one.’"
I’m not in Timbaland’s visions, but I am increasingly concerned that his might not serve best for the young artist.
I’ve mentioned Tink’s name for quite some time now, only skeptics have not been convinced by any of the aforementioned tracks. I don’t blame them; they’re not a testament to her talent and promise. However, Winter’s Diary 3 surely is. Songs like “I Like,” “H20,” “Very Very Special,” and “Jupiter” remind me of what made me intrigued by Tink. There is a strength in her delivery even when it’s most subtle. She has a delicacy to her voice, not unlike a gentle breeze hitting your face the second you need it most. She’s reflective, thoughtful, and romantic without being cheesy.
But on that same mixtape, there is “L.E.A.S.H.” produced by Timbaland. It is not a bad track, but it does feel out of place. His sound still hovers over her, making her less distinct. It’s not that the two can’t make magic; it’s just that unless her forthcoming album, Think Tink, has to live up to its name. Otherwise, she’s basically Ms. Jade 2.
You see how well that went.