Kelela & Tink Release the R&B Collaboration of Your Dreams... Sort Of — LISTEN
One is a 30-year-old first generation Ethiopian-American, the other a teenager from Chicago. But both Kelela and Tink are wickedly talented women with a knack for ethereal R&B with a '90s bent, so it's only natural that they would collaborate. And it's only natural that it would produce something incredible.
Both artists found critical success with their recent mixtape releases: Kelela with the future-bass sounds of Cut 4 Me, and Tink with the twinkling, vulnerable Winter's Diary 2. So Adidas Originals got them together for their series "Songs from Scratch," in which two on-the-rise artists create an entirely new song together (so, uh, thanks, corporate America?). The two worked together in the studio with producer DJ Dahi to create the sultry cool that is "Want It."
Of course, nothing is completely perfect. The song is fantastic: an insistent pulse layered with Kelela and Tink's delicate vocal harmonies, awash in synth and broken up by a rap verse from Tink. But the lyrical content is the kind of thing we've seen before: the R&B myth of the other woman. It's unclear if this is a kind of Brandy and Monica "The Boy is Mine"-style battle, but either way, there's a clear current of female competition in the lyrics.
Thankfully, actions speak louder than words. One only needs to watch the "Making Of" video to see that the only girl-on-girl competition Kelela and Tink know of is in the song. Each seems to understand where the other is coming from artistically, and they spend most of their time in the studio bolstering each other up and supporting one another's ideas. Kelela hears a wordless melody that Tink sings and points excitedly. "I think that's something!" These are women helping each other grow, not tearing each other down.
And that's important. In a world where the only women in the room are often pitted against one another (even in music), it's good to see two women who are growing together instead of competing. Sure, Tink and Kelela's song may not have the most female-positive message. But the way that they worked together sends a more important message about the future of women in music — and the song's shimmering, bubbly sounds says good things about the future of R&B. Listen to it poolside this summer with your friends and remember what Kelela and Tink already know: when they shine, you shine.