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NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Tinashe’s ‘BB/ANG3L’: A Dimension Of Desire

Image from Spotify

After ending her six-year relationship with RCA Records, R&B artist Tinashe left an unpredicted mark on the music industry with her 2021 album “333,” an expansive body of work that seemed boundless with experimental production and visual concepts despite its release without label backing. The feat of creating such a meticulous record as an independent artist revealed Tinashe’s artistic prowess to both longtime fans and newcomers. 

This year, newly signed to Nice Life Recording Company, Tinashe commenced her return with “BB/ANGEL,” the first half of a two-part project. Although the album only clocks in at the 20-minute mark, Tinashe maximizes her time with a fresh collection of seven hypnotic tracks that further reinvigorates her signature airy sound. Short and bittersweet, Tinashe uses “BB/ANG3L” to not only reintroduce herself after a short hiatus, but also to unveil her sonic transformation. 

Though “333” was recognized for its ethereal and mystical neo-soul nature, “BB/ANG3L” immediately differentiates itself with a melancholic and synth-infused atmosphere. Tinashe strives to perform a deep self-analysis based on her past expressions of love and loyalty as she reflects on the after-effects of a tumultuous relationship. To achieve this, Tinashe places the listener into an inner clash between the prioritization of self-worth and emotional fulfillment. 

This conflict is showcased in the first track, “Treason,” which marks the beginning of the album’s narrative. In this song, Tinashe recklessly returns to her past lover who wounded her due to a previous act of infidelity. Despite having self-awareness, Tinashe makes her choice impulsively and subsequently shames herself for betraying her better judgment, likening it to an act of inner treason.  

The song’s heart-racing lyrics, including “Drivin’ with no headlights, I’m runnin’ every red light,” are further intensified by the mixture of a haunting piano melody, subtle heartbeats, and layers of eerie electronica, replicating the sensation of riding a high-speed freight train. Tinashe’s opening statement, “I already know how it ends, I already feel those regrets,” emphasizes that she is willing to reveal raw emotions but acknowledges no perception of pure gullibility. 

This rejection of harsh judgment is further reinforced by lines such as “Keep our plans in private, their opinions don’t mean a thing,” in her next track, the hypnotic and gloomy “Talk To Me Nice.” Here, Tinashe conveys her newfound confidence to her rekindled old flame over a sultry and brooding production. She clarifies that her return is motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and nothing more.  

Tinashe denies any aspect of dependency or trust, boldly declaring “Don’t pick me up, I’ll drive,” and “Want you, but don’t need you.” Asserting that this is simply a phase that she is passing through, Tinashe acquires her satisfaction while simultaneously condemning her ex-lover for his betrayal, with lines such as “Try to find better, ain’t none if you noticed,” highlighting his treachery as his biggest mistake. Tinashe states that he can never regain a pure form of her love and loyalty, stating “You only get one chance, only one try.” 

In the album’s third track, “Needs,” Tinashe exudes self-assurance as she basks in the act of pleasure with no strings attached, despite her ex-lover craving a deeper connection. However, Tinashe suspects that this yearning is not rooted in genuine love, but rather in his desire to return to a superior option after being involved with other women. Regardless of the toxicity of this pairing, Tinashe lightheartedly remarks “I’m just human, we all got needs,” on this seductive house-infused track, continuing to enjoy herself with the awareness that she is the one truly in control of how this rekindling unfolds. 

With the fourth track of “BB/ANG3L,” “Uh Huh,” Tinashe shifts away from her earlier statements of bravado as she sings, “It was just for the plot, but baby, I’m back for more,” to reflect on the vulnerability that her former lover naturally evokes from her. Despite the pain he has caused her, her innate sense of tenderness and loyalty prevents her from completely abandoning all traces of affection that she once had for him.  

This theme is accentuated through the song’s soft production, which is filled with whispers, whistle tones, and subdued bass, creating an aflutter yet peaceful track. Tinashe confesses “I never expected this is how it would go,” recalling her past acts of devotion towards an individual who never truly appreciated it. 

This sense of bitter clarity is reinforced in the album’s fifth track, “Gravity,” a wispy and pulsating electronic track where Tinashe confides to her ex about the torment that he ignites within her, and how he leaves her in a state of despair and emotional confusion. She compares her return to her untrustworthy past lover to the natural state of being pulled down by gravity to his plane of existence, a momentum that is hard to fight against.  

Tinashe balances on the edge of reattaching to her ex and cutting ties with him forever, confessing, “Can’t fool me twice, but it’d be nice.” She longs for blissful naivety to reenter her relationship, although she knows she can never return to the same level of trust towards her ex.   

“None Of My Business,” the sixth track, showcases Tinashe briefly succumbing to her longing for the relationship, coercing herself into reaching a state of mind where she accepts any form of treatment. A stark shift from her previous perceptive skills, Tinashe briefly lingers in a world where her loyalty remained unwavering despite an imbalanced amount of support from her ex-lover’s side.  

However, her self awareness ultimately holds strong, as she equates her ex’s spellbinding charm to poison from a snake bite that has left her in a trance and a drug that she has become addicted to. The track’s frenzied production meshes with the hazy and disorienting atmosphere created by its lyrics. 

For the album’s seventh and final track, “Tightrope,” Tinashe attempts to escape from her toxic situation before she can succumb to her yearning for a reconnection. Exclaiming “Need an escape route, before I hit the ground,” the track’s speedy techno rhythm matches the frantic energy as she internally wrestles through her recounting of both the dysfunctional and sentimental memories that she shares with her ex.  

Tinashe begins her farewell note with “Hope it plays out my way in a different timeline,” in an act of fully separating any ties to her past hopes for the relationship. Feeling ashamed of her brief return to this unhealthy environment, she returns to her former path of confidence and self-preservation. 

It remains uncertain if Tinashe’s escape plan succeeded, as this track marks the final note of the “BB/ANG3L” narrative, a possible sacrifice made to ensure a captivating conclusion in the second half of this two-part project. Despite the album’s short runtime and ambiguous ending, “BB/ANG3L” exhibits a substantial body of sound that lays the canvas for a journey of sonic and introspective experimentation before reaching the finale of Tinashe’s long-term vision. 


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Najee Manning, Senior Staff Writer
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