Tinashe has been getting back to her moody R&B roots lately and it’s been paying off in a big way for the Los Angeles-based singer. First, she broke out of a creative slump on her latest album, Joyride, after an extended gestation process that found her straying away from the dark introspection that first built her mixtape fanbase. Now, she’s released a one-off single that proves the creative renaissance wasn’t just a fluke. It’s called “Like I Used To,” and it finds the singer riding a thumping, trap-influenced beat as she sings sultry but accusatory lyrics, telling the addressee — possibly NBA star Ben Simmons — that she “gave up all my love but you abused it / Now you just something I checked off my ‘to-do’ list.” Ouch.
The singer’s return to her R&B bag came after a run that saw her creating increasingly pop-oriented material at the behest of her label, while she saw others profiting from the fruits of her more soulful early direction. Most notably, Joyride‘s title track reportedly very nearly ended up on Rihanna’s Anti, while SZA, H.E.R., and others have been credited with a rebirth of R&B’s commercial success, even as Tinashe quietly toiled away in the shadows, hampered by both poor presentation and the hypercritical nature of online discourse, which took some of her prior comments out of context to ridicule her stalled career. Now that the drama of Joyride‘s extended development is behind her, it seems she’s back to making exactly the sort of music she always wanted to, just as R&B is finally breaking out of its own dark ages to once again dominate the charts.