Real Name: Trinity Home
Single to Hear: “Ratchet Commandments”
Video to Watch: “Treat Me Like Somebody”
Where You'll See Her This Summer: NXNE Festival in Toronto (June 17 and 18)
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
At this year’s SXSW Festival, Timbaland gave 19-year-old Tink quite an introduction: He told the audience that the late Aaliyah appeared to him in a dream and told him that Tink was “the one.” But don’t write her off as just another overhyped protégé — the independent-minded rapper/singer has been honing her voice since long before Tim stepped into the picture. As prolific as she is precocious, Chicago-based Tink had released five self-recorded mixtapes by the time she was out of high school, including the head-turning Winter’s Diary 1 & 2. Standout tracks like the candid ballad “Treat Me Like Somebody” and “Room 302” (a collaboration with DJ collective Future Brown) showcase her unique songwriting voice — sharp and assertive, but never afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. Tink is currently splitting her time between Chicago and Miami, where she and Timbaland are finishing up her forthcoming debut album; it doesn’t have a release date yet, but she promises it’s more than half done.
You’re working on your debut album right now. Is the sound much different from what we’ve heard from you on your mixtapes?
The message is still the same. I can never change that up. But the production and the overall sound, that’s very well put together now. Working with Timbaland, you know it’s not gonna sound like anything else out there today. The sound is very next-level.
How was your recording process different when you were making mixtapes?
Before I was working with Timbaland, I was basically producing myself. I would have to email and tweet producers, like, “Could you please send me some beats? I’m in the studio.” Or sometimes I’d even get on YouTube and find some basic instrumentals to work with. But working with Timbaland is the total opposite. He’s helped out a whole lot.
What’s it like working with him?
A general night in the studio is like, we go in the lab, and then before we even hear anything we have a conversation. We’re just like family — we can talk for hours. After we get comfortable, Tim will play some beats, and when I hear something I want to rap to, I run with it. I go into the lab by myself, and I put my spin on it, and then we go back in the lab together. We just go back and forth, like ping-pong.
When you were recording your own stuff, you were constantly putting out new music to your followers on social media. Is it a challenge not to be able to share this album immediately with your fans?
That’s hard for me. I had to really buckle down on that. Last year, when we first started working on the album, I didn’t really understand. Because I was independent for such a long time, and I was always just feeding my fans — every month, I’d be giving them something new. So I had to adjust to the process of making a record. And after signing with a label, there are just certain things you can’t do anymore. It was frustrating at first, but as the months went by I got used to it.
Is there any kind of music that you think people would be surprised to know you’re a fan of?
I like country music. Sometimes I’ll just type in “country” on Pandora and listen. I really like the passion in the lyrics. You really get an image in your mind with some of the lyrics. Country singers put a lot of soul into their songs, and I enjoy that.
You’ve said that Nicki Minaj was a big inspiration when you first started rapping. What was it about her that connected with you?
I think it was the simple fact that we didn’t have any females at the time! When Nicki was putting out mixtapes, she was the only female rapper that had any kind of buzz. And not to mention that she was on the track with the guys, you know? So you had the girls playing it, and you had the hood guys playing it, too, so you couldn’t run away from Nicki. She was everywhere. And it was inspiring. I’ll be honest with you, before I heard Nicki rapping, I probably wouldn’t have thought to rap myself. Just to see a female doing it and being in there with the guys, it was motivation.
You call yourself a feminist. Do you think the music industry is becoming more accepting of young female artists using that word?
Definitely. From my point of view, I think before the last three or five years, people didn’t really understand what feminism was about. Just because male domination was still so strong. It was abnormal for us females to be treated like we were equal. So this generation, the times we’re in right now, you’re seeing a lot of feminists just rising up. People are actually starting to hear us for what we’re worth and treat us as equals. Females — we go just as hard as the guys, if not harder. You know what I mean? There’s a female running for president. Something’s in the water right now.
(Hilfiger Collection, star faux-fur jacket $550, at Tommy Hilfiger, 681 Fifth Ave., 212-223-1824; tommy.com. Stussy hat, $25, at Stussy.com. Artist’s own watch and jewelry. Photographs by Shae Detar, styling by Amanda Lee Shirreffs, makeup by Faith Bartruff.)
Most Viewed Stories
Selena Gomez Flaunts Post-Breakup Ukulele
I Think About This a Lot: This Grainy Photo of Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx
Everything You Need to Know About the March for Our Lives
‘Should I Point Out Job Applicants’ Mistakes to Them?’
Did Donald Trump Jr.’s Wife Leave Him Because He’s Cheap?
Barrier-Breaking Couple Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Choose Untraditional Wedding Cake
What a Group of Black Moms Taught Me About My Daughter’s Hair
If You Want Clear Skin, Look at Your Poop
How I Get It Done: April Ryan, White House Correspondent
Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez Made Out After Church
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.