Tinashe Says She Didn't Want to Release 'Embarrassing' Collaborations with R. Kelly and Chris Brown

The R&B star spoke regretfully about the collaborations, noting that she was instructed by her former record label to release them

<p>Nina Westervelt/WWD via Getty</p> Tinashe in New York City on Sept. 10, 2023

Nina Westervelt/WWD via Getty

Tinashe in New York City on Sept. 10, 2023

It wasn't Tinashe's idea to work alongside male musicians with histories of sexual misconduct.

In a new interview with the Zach Sang Show, the R&B singer-songwriter looked back on her collaborations with R. Kelly and Chris Brown with a sense of discomfort, noting that the record label she was signed with at the time gave her little choice but to take part in the two duets.

"You think I wanted [to collaborate with those artists]?" asked Tinashe, 30, following a question about the collaborations with Kelly, a convicted sex offender currently serving a decades-long prison sentence for sex trafficking and racketeering, and Brown, who has a controversial history of physical abuse and misconduct.

Related: Tinashe Says She Kept Her New Album 'BB/ANG3L' Short with Only 7 Songs to 'Cut the Fat' (Exclusive)

"I block out that R. Kelly song from my mind. I forget that it even exists," she explained of 2015's "Let's Be Real Now," a collaboration on Kelly's 2015 The Buffet album. "That is so embarrassing. That is so unreal that I even have a song with R. Kelly."

Tinashe was signed to Sony's RCA Records from 2012 through 2019, and she told Sang the the record label instructed her to collaborate with Kelly on the track. "I was so young too, which is crazy," she said. "I feel like I did that song when I'd just signed to that label. I was probably, like, 20."

Since leaving the label, the "2 On" musician has spoken publicly about many artistic disagreements that went down between her and the company. The same year that "Let's Be Real Now" came out, she also collaborated with Brown on the single "Player," which garnered backlash from fans at the time due to his history with violence.

Related: A Complete History of Chris Brown's Legal Troubles

<p>Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty</p> Tinashe at the MTV VMAs in Newark, New Jersey on Sept. 12, 2023

Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty

Tinashe at the MTV VMAs in Newark, New Jersey on Sept. 12, 2023

"We all wanted ['Player'] to be this big moment — this big single. So I feel like in [RCA’s] mind, they were like ‘You need the support.’ And [Brown] was like their biggest artist that they had on rhythmic radio at the time," said Tinashe. "I was like, ‘Well, this is a pop song, so I really don’t feel like we should put Chris on it like that. I don’t like that. That doesn’t compute to me.'"

At the time, she was a relatively new artist looking to follow up the success of her debut album Aquarius and its hit singles, "2 On" and "All Hands on Deck," so she listened to the label's guidance — against her own judgement.

"There's only so much that you can be like, 'No, I'm not going to do this,' because you want to be successful. You want to put your music out," said Tinashe. "There was a part of me that was still excited or thankful or grateful or hopeful that, 'Maybe this will work. I am collaborating with a very successful artist. I don't know.'"

Now, Tinashe is an independent artist. Last week, she released her latest album BB/ANG3L in partnership with Nice Life Recording Company.

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