Joyrides are almost always ill-conceived.
Just ask Latarian Milton, the then-7-year-old who went viral in 2008 after stealing his grandmother’s car because he was mad at his mom and wanted to do “hoodrat stuff” with his friends.
“Along the way,” a WPBF 25 News reporter said, “he ran over two mailboxes, hit two parked cars in a Costco parking lot and struck two moving cars near Walmart.”
The route of Joyride, the third studio album from singer, actress and model Tinashe, is that of a Lyft or Uber driver intent on jacking up the price by way of constant meandering and oscillation. It’s aimed toward the future of pop and R&B yet powered by the past, with the 13-song, 37-minute track list divided by ominous interludes reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814.
Instead of blazing a trail toward the pop of tomorrow, Tinashe’s album struggles to ever get going. Joined by a carful of questionable companions ranging from Little Dragon to French Montana, Joyride is a detour from Tinashe’s auspicious career path.
The featured artists provide an inefficient and misguided source of fuel for Joyride‘s voyage. Most inexcusable is the French Montana and Ty Dolla $ign-featured “Me So Bad,” the conception for which can be explained only as an idea for the backing track in a French Vanilla Ciroc commercial. Montana, the first rapper in history to succeed without having any known fans, stops by to offer an nine-bar of uninspired tropical entertainment destined for next year’s Fyre Festival.
“She a savage, Louis vintage baggage,” Montana generically raps. “You know we the flyest, that’s a fact/ And I need a new crib for the plaques.”
Two songs later, Tinashe sheds the clutter of “Me So Bad” and turns the lukewarm party into a warm storm on “Stuck With Me.” Though Tinashe’s vocals are near-flawless, a high-pitched Little Dragon feature halts the rhythm and ruins the song.
“Don’t take me for granted, you might miss,” sings Little Dragon, “more than just the diamonds, I’m an empress.”
Joyride‘s finest moments come when Tinashe is on her own, as the singer-songwriter has a wide depth of range and flows that allow her to serve almost as her own guest. On “Salt,” she wows over a hazy, wild west instrumental with the attitude of Rihanna’s “Desperado.”
“So when you go, and break my heart in two,” dictates Tinashe before a mesmerizing vocal switch, “Don’t throw salt on the wound.”
Joyride‘s ultimate impact on Tinashe’s career will be more fender bender than full-force T-bone collision, sort of how Latarian Milton saw his own actions back in 2008. Asked by a reporter if he didn’t think he should be punished, the child responded with what he thought would be appropriate.
“Just a little bit,” Milton said. “No video games for a whole weekend.”