Saturday, March 21, 2015

Amethyst | Tinashe


★★★★☆

Just five months ago, a mainstream audience was welcomed to Tinashe's world on Aquarius, a debut album stacked with alternative R&B tunes and urban club bangers provided courtesy of DJ Mustard and Cashmere Cat. As a follow-up to her major label debut, Tinashe dropped her fourth mixtape, titled after her birthstone. Amethyst is a compact seven-track suite that spares the condiments and the cat in favor of a soothing hybrid of electronic and R&B.

The mixtape is book-ended by its most ethereal tracks. "Dreams are Real" allows Tinashe to soar to her airiest notes over the chorus and scoop to her lower range as she proclaims, "The future is mine." Meanwhile, her voice shifts to a delicate whisper (similar to the tone that blasted FKA twigs to fame) over the glitched production of "Just The Way I Like You." In between them, Tinashe experiments vocally over five other tracks. From her dark, auto-tuned croons ("Wrong") to her strongest and most sensual mid-range displays ("Wanderer"), Tinashe's voice takes center stage throughout the mixtape.

Amethyst is a relatively small collection, especially compared to the hour-long run time of Aquarius. A seven-track platform gives an artist a limited canvas to impress and can magnify an album's mistakes. Luckily, Tinashe is without many missteps here (spare the awkward "You ain't Tupac, bitch / You ain't Tupac" whispers on "Lookin 4 It"). Sonically, she is the stepping-stone between mainstream R&B and alternative outliers to the genre, and vocally, she puts many of her contemporaries to shame.

Amethyst is available for a free download now at Hot New Hip Hop.

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