Chyle Please: Singer Tinashe Blames Colorism On Her Stagnancy in the Industry

Photo: Billboard

Singer Tinashe stirred up a heap of controversy after an interview with Guardian. The 24-year old biracial songstress claims that "colorism" is a defining factor in the stagnancy of her career and that Black female r&b/pop artists have to be either Rihanna or Beyoncé.

I actually agree wholeheartedly with her statement about Rihanna and Beyoncé. While there are more current Black female r&b/pop singers making waves like SZA and K. Michelle, there seems to be a glass ceiling where these women can only reach a certain level of mainstream success. It seems like the "Nicki Minaj" effect has permeated the r&b/pop genre to a degree. I've noticed this for years. I always go back and compare today's current music industry (specifically narrowing down to the r&b and hip-hop genres) to that of the 1990's and 2000's. I personally feel this is the format and blueprint that should be followed.

Back in the 1990's, there were numerous Black women r&b singers who were mainstream and enjoyed mainstream success abundantly; Mary J. Blige, Amerie, Ashanti, Toni Braxton, you name it. Nowadays while women like K. Michelle are mainstream, it still feels like they're in the quasi-indie arena. Perhaps due to the lack of funding by music labels and the decrease of music purchases, this climate has been created causing more and more artists to travel the independent route.

Tinashe's stance on sexism in the industry was also spot on. She stated that "there are hundreds of male rappers that look the same, that sound the same", before she went on to say that Black female artists must be a Beyoncé or Rihanna. She's right, but I do feel that male artists, to some degree are allowed to be more diverse. Take a Kendrick Lamar verses a Future, for instance. While there may be minor comparisons between the two, in terms of hip-hop and rap lyrical content (elements of misogyny for example), they are different in style. It appears more Black male artists (in hip-hop) can be conscious, sexual, comedic, and overall multi-dimensional in their music while Black female artists are limited to being sexual whether that is their personal choice or pushed by the industry. In todays hip-hop there are quite a few mainstream Black male rappers who have gone the semi-conscious route in comparison to the only mainstream Black female rapper with one dimensional content.

As I stated previously, this is the Nicki Minaj effect that there can "only be one", but in the case of the r&b/pop world, two (Beyonce and Rihanna). It does seem that women artists are required to have that "it" factor to prosper in comparison to the many male rappers who look and sound as if they were assembled in a clone factory. There's  ot a lot of balance the way it was in the 1990's and 2000's. So from those perspectives, I can agree with Tinashe. I feel that needed to be said.

However. When it comes to this accusation of "colorism", not being accepted, her mixed race background having to due with a lack of push, and Black people not supporting her:

Tinashe is being manipulative and dishonest on purpose. Riding the fence and showing a multitude of entitlement. I don't believe she believes what she stated in the interview and you shouldn't either. Not to make it seem like the only reason she (or any other women) only made it because of her skin tone and her mixed race background, but let's keep it a buck, she benefits profoundly due to her being mixed and being light skinned. Brown and dark skinned Black women singers with ten times the talent will still be looked over.

For decades in American pop culture media, lighter skinned Black and mixed race women have been placed on pedestals. Specifically sought after. This isn't only apparent within pop culture, but this is systemic and a global symptom of colonialism. If anything, it's the brown skinned and dark skinned Black women who are lacking support major ways. I do not wish to devalue her experiences if accurate, but this idea of "colorism" against a mixed woman in the modern music industry seems fishy.

If anything, the Black American community has been historically and even presently welcoming to half Black mixed race people because of the historic and outdated "One Drop Rule" used in American chattel slavery to increase the number of slaves on plantations. In other countries that had slavery like Trinidad and Brazil, half Black mixed race people were not seen as Black nor labeled as such. Instead, terms such as "octaroon", "quadroon", and "mulatto" were given to them. Currently, more and more biracial people are respectfully and rightfully deciding to claim themselves as "Mixed" and not "Black" due to their mixed racial background. While many Black folk in America and overseas dismiss the ODP, with the presidency of Barack Obama and dubbing him the "first Black president", it seems that many Black people are accepting of half Black biracial people.

Besides, half Black mixed women like Sade, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, and Amerie, light skinned Black women like Aaliyah, Ciara, Keyshia Cole and plenty more on both ends have done numbers in their careers being supported by the Black community. Maybe it's those wack ass Radio Disney sing-a-longs Tinotshe has been putting out.

Tinashe, dear sis. I saw that Janet Jackson tribute back in 2015 and I didn't like it. I wasn't feeling it. I didn't know if I was watching the BET Awards or a high school pep rally with those captain of the cheerleader squad moves. No ma'am. I wont dismiss that Tinashe (and others) hasn't been discriminated against because of her skin tone and being mixed, but within the music industry, both are a hot commodity and there is overall acceptance. The way colorism still affects the Black community and favoritism of light skinned and mixed backgrounds is shown, I'm personally not buying this story. All in all, Tinashe thought being biracial and conveniently claiming her Blackness would afford her the privilege of being on top, it didn't work out, and now she's scrambling for excuses. It's not us, it's you.

Share your thoughts on Tinashe's statements below. Do you think colorism has effected her career as she stated?



  1. Anonymous7/05/2017

    She thought being biracial was gonna make world forget bey and rih. That is what she was hoping, banking on. But when it didn't work For her, she trying to blame the same community she was trying to win over, hoping they'd fall for her light skin and long hair like it has been in the past