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The angel number “333” is a reassuring sign that confirms the path one currently charters is the correct one. All fears, worries, anxieties, or anything else that undercuts confidence at the knees, are acknowledged, but the beam of light that this triple-digit figure shines towards is optimism rather than pessimism. In short, “333” not only begs for faith but also induces it. After all the chaos that the world endured in 2020, it’s no surprise that Tinashe’s fifth album carries the title of 333, but a pandemic year barely scratches the surface of inspiration for the singer, that is, if it’s even for the table she sits at.
To understand why Tinashe might need faith instilled in her future, you have to understand her past. After gaining popularity for a trio for 2010s mixtapes, In Case We Die (2012), Reverie (2012), and Black Water (2013), and breaking through mainstream walls with her debut album Aquarius and top-30 Billboard single “2 On,” things would veer off-road for Tinashe. Struggles with her former label would result in an unpromoted sophomore album Nightride and a well-overdue third album in Joyride. Tinashe would reclaim control of her career as an independent act for her fourth and fifth albums, Songs For You and 333, but for many of her fans, and quite possibly the singer herself, questions of what-ifs and maybes swarmed the mind.
333 encapsulates Tinashe’s eye-popping versatility like no other album in her discography has done. Through 16 songs and collaborations with Jeremih, Kaytranada, Kaash Paige, Buddy, and more, the singer dives headfirst into the idea that trusting what’s in front of you will lead to what’s also destined for you. It’s the hidden message that lays underneath the drawn-out and steady snaps on the album’s opening track, “Let Go.” “It’ll be alright,” she sings softly. “When I let go.” The gadgets and gizmos that we believe we can control to steer our lives in the desired direction are mere placebos that appear as such we end up at a different destination than expected — whether it be an enchanting heaven or a bottomless ditch.
So with that, Tinashe keeps faith in what she can do well, and in all honesty, it’s a lot. Between R&B that arrives as gritty on “I Can See The Future” or bouncy and sensual on “X” as well as pop-leaning records that come alive through “Undo (Back To My Heart)” and “The Chase,” Tinashe’s palette bears many different colors for brushes of all sizes. For some, this never-ending availability of options may be too much to handle, but for Tinashe? She’s cut front the cloth that doesn’t simply beg for freedom — she requires and demands it. A lack of boundaries for some leads to aimless roaming and wasted times, while for others, it provides the perfect space for discovery and inspiration. Tinashe is the latter.
Roaming free helped the singer produce several examples of attention-seizing records on 333. “Unconditional” begins with uptempo dance-ready production before dialing the tempo back in its second half into a relaxed state that sees Tinashe expanding on her request for love without restriction as she plans on giving the same. “Last Call” arrives as a somber goodbye to a relationship that once was and the hope that a friendship can be salvaged. The song’s climatic production from verse-to-chorus accentuates Tinashe’s true pain towards a departed love while a similar structure on “The Chase” presents a woman who’s moved on and won’t beg for a former lover’s presence.
For the career Tinashe has endured, two quotes from her come to mind. “I realized that it was my turn to get back into the driver’s seat as far as curating every move I made from there on out,” which she said following the underwhelming success of “Flame,” a lead single turned promo release for Joyride. The second comes from a 2017 interview with Lena Dunham. “I learned that if I couldn’t trust in myself, and my own opinions, I lost all of my value as an artist,” she said. Both statements from Tinashe are worth keeping in mind while traversing through her latest body of work.
Tinashe deserves the spot she stands in right now. She was due for this position years ago, but maybe the bumpy road she walked on was intentionally laid for her. While the trials and tribulations the singer went through are certainly examples of the faults within an often unsupportive music industry, this and the accompanying high moments she experienced all contributed to the success she has now. Control what you can and let go of what you cannot as hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is as blind as a bat, but faith in continuing forward should bring Tinashe all she wants and more. The angels have spoken, now it’s time to listen, trust, and believe.
333 is out now via Tinashe Music Inc. Get it here.