Tinashe and Schoolboy Q Take It Back to 2005-ish on Kimmel

Twenty-one-year-old R&B singer/producer Tinashe is doing the rounds to support her new album Aquarius, released on Tuesday. On Kimmel last night, she showed up in periwinkle sweatpants with Schoolboy Q to perform song-of-the-summer “2 On,” an epic club jam about going out with your homegirls and getting lifted, or vice versa.

The musician herself is becoming more famous each day, and “2 On,” released all the way back in January, clearly has a long-ass shelf life. But Aquarius sounds intimate, like leaning back with some kush and a Moleskine inside Tinashe’s head—her singing voice is breathy and light, and so she purposely writes songs in minor keys, giving a midnight glow to it all. In this clip, she shows her versatility: she’s a great dancer, and can sing while doing so, a feat however thin it may be here and there. (Doing the butterfly while singing a chorus is hard work, and not everyone is Beyoncé! Besides, seems like all we can ask at this point is that people stay on pitch, which Tinashe does.)

Most striking to me, besides the JARRING AT&T logos behind her (seriously Kimmel, gross, also memo to AT&T: YES I KNOW I’VE EXCEEDED MY DATA USAGE), is the fact that this same performance could have been staged ten years ago, down to the choreography and the sound. That is not a dis (though since the “2 On” video there’s been a Cassie-with-a-better-voice aura around Tinashe, purely owing to the similarities between it and the clip for “Me & U.”). It just shows how much R&B has changed, and how parched we are (or maybe just me) for strong women putting down good choreography. (Donde está, Ciara Harris, greatest dancer ever?) As Jon Caramanica put it in the New York Times, Beyoncé has “bigfooted the conversation,” essentially become the only game in town, while younger and newer talents like Tinashe try to eke their way into it. (I saw Mila J perform not long ago, and got the feeling that she was similarly trying to find her footing and her place, though Tinashe has a solider sense of herself, and way more recent output.) With the success of “2 On” it will be interesting to see how Aquarius does, and what it changes. I’m rooting for her, though.

Also, Schoolboy Q is cool and great. Thank you for just doing you, Schoolboy Q.

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