Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Tinashe ft. Ms Banks – Die a Little Bit

We, on the other hand, are living a little bit for this…


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William John: Three years ago this week, Tinashe released a project entitled Nightride, but nothing on it conjures the mystique and drama of a trip on the night bus quite like “Die A Little Bit,” with its clanking drums and foggy synths, bass that pulses with the regularity of the passing street light, and shards of conversation and exclamation that occasionally perforate the monotony. Tinashe and Ms Banks are the cool girls up the back, here almost indistinguishable aside from accent, and punctuate the track with a delicate balance of menace, detachedness, sensuality and the desire to relent to numb, dumb, debaucherous pleasure. When the news broke that Tinashe had left RCA, it would’ve been enough for her next move to be little more than a show of competence; not many would’ve expected her to come back with a contender for single of the year. And yet here we are.
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Leah Isobel: Post-RCA, Tinashe eases back into public consciousness with a lithe, vaporous track about dancing. She’s always been a consummate performer, the kind who aims to play out the listener’s fantasies in front of them; here, the voices of others (her brother, who’s sampled, and Ms Banks) take her out of her first verse’s anxieties and into her body. Much like her idol, dancing is a rhetorical shortcut for freedom and loss of inhibition, but the track’s combination of cool distance and sharp rhythmic precision let us know that the escape is only temporary. It marks space but doesn’t occupy it; her affectless vocal follows suit. It’s as if she’s playing out her own fantasy or watching herself on a screen, wondering what makes Tinashe-as-performer and Tinashe-as-human different. 
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Alfred Soto: The spareness is its own attraction, and Ms. Banks’ rap adds a crucial exclamation mark. 
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Nicholas Donohoue: The dark, sexy, bit frightening elements Tinashe is playing up hits the beat as solid, but too obvious, however Ms Banks’ more traditional life of the party contribution snaps the contrast into place in a way that does vibe all together.
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Will Adams: In contrast with “Look At Her Now,” which operates in the same up-close approach to dance music, “Die a Little Bit” really goes there in its moodiness. The call and response between Tinashe and Ms Banks turns the hook into an ominous recitation: “drink/smoke/dance/vibe” becomes “fuck/change/ride/die.” The arrangement is also arresting, a throbbing house pulse that sprinkles in noisy crowd chatter for a dizzying, claustrophobic effect. The lack of structure keeps it from being truly great — we could have used another repetition or two of the hook — but still makes for an exciting listen from someone whose potential has been stifled for too long.
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Edward Okulicz: Over the last few months, I’ve begun experiencing uncomfortable feelings of claustrophobia, when I never had before. So there’s something about this sparse, constricted track that I find compelling but also unsettling. Tinashe recites “drink, smoke, dance” like a mantra, but on this track they sound like temporary escapes from something that feels as if it’s going to inevitably crush us all. Then Ms Banks drops a pretty fun verse and it’s over in three minutes. All escapes should be this smooth.
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Michael Hong: Tinashe’s debut album may have been the strongest R&B debut of the decade. In the years since, it’s often felt like she’s been clamouring for a hit, with the run of clubby singles leading to Joyride falling flat as her voice lacked that same spark. “Die a Little Bit,” then, comes as a bit of a course correction, with Tinashe slinking across the track’s atmosphere, her voice reignited with the flame that made Aquarius so alluring. It also comes as proof that Tinashe’s years in limbo at RCA weren’t spent in vain as she channels the propulsive energy of “No Drama” and “Faded Love” into a club banger that never sounds as empty as Joyride. Her sensual breathy vocals are punctuated by the hedonistic chorus and Ms. Banks’ rapid flow fits into the groove of the track. The pair are completely captivating and the track coalesces into a hypnotic cloud of vapour. While the intro ad-libs and spoken word sections might be rather unnecessary, they drive home the final point. Tinashe’s back in control.
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