A refreshing change of pace from the shock-baiting Azealias of the rap game, Tink is a certifiable double threat—triple if you count her precocious songwriting skills. There’s Tink the rapper, a no-flinch drillstress who spits clever bars such as “money make the world go round / so I can’t fuck with squares” before nimbly flipping to Tink the singer, a classically-trained, smooth R&B confessor.
Since stunning listeners with her first mixtape Winter’s Diary last spring, Tink has been dubbed one of Chicago’s most promising newcomers, buzz that has her poised for a major breakthrough in the hip-hop world. At only 18, she just released Boss Up, her fourth mixtape in over a year, in addition to cutting-edge collaborations with the likes of Future Brown and How to Dress Well.
It’s a Monday afternoon and Tink, born Trinity Home, is back home in Chicago nursing a cold caught while performing at Western Illinois University’s homecoming over the weekend. “I got my tea and my soup,” she laughs. “Tryna recover and get my voice together.” Two days prior, she was on stage at Output nightclub in Brooklyn—her first Fade to Mind showcase of the year, and one of the several times she’s been flown out to perform New York’s coolest parties. A hectic schedule for sure, but if the last year has proven anything, it’s that Tink stays well on her grind. BULLETT got the boss lady on the phone, where she opened up about falling in love, Chi-town struggles and what’s in store for the future.
Where were you at this point last year?
I was probably at home, still uploading my music to Youtube. It was different than this year, I’ll tell you that. I was still up-and-coming in my city and not too many people knew about me. Now it’s very different. Work has definitely picked up since last year. Everything is moving so quickly.
What has made people champion you early on in your career?
If you listen to my music you’ll understand that I’m not young the way that I think. I’m actually talking about real things. My topics are older than I am, so I think that’s what attracts more [listeners]. I grew up with an older brother and have seen hard things.
Your music has such a stark duality, sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s coming from the same girl. You’re definitely a double threat. Probably a triple threat. Do you dance?
I do dance, actually. I used to dance in a dance group when I was younger. Not too many people know, though. If you ever come to one of my shows you’ll see a tad bit of dancing.
Can you twerk?
Yes of course I can twerk. I’m from Chicago!
The Chicago hip-hop scene is absolutely bursting with new, underexposed talent and has been getting a lot of press lately. What’s it like to come from a city with so much competition?
Honestly, it just motivates me to go a little harder. My city is kind of full of hate, so it definitely makes you stronger, makes you push a little harder every day. We have to give it that extra push for people to rock with us. When there are so, so many rappers and different artists coming out of my city you have to go hard to set yourself apart otherwise you fall in line with everyone else who’s doing the same thing.
What do you think about Chance the Rapper and his mainstream success?
Man, I love Chance the Rapper, I give him all respect and credit just because he came up at a time when drill music was popular and he didn’t even conform to the drill vibe. He made his own way, and he’s so creative and talented and doing big things. He doesn’t let anybody distract him, so for that I salute him so much.
A lot of your songs deal with love and faithfulness and heartbreak. Do you feel more inspired while in love or out of it?
Ooh, that’s such a good question. I love that question because it’s so hard. I feel more inspired when I’m out of love, to be honest. Just because when I’m in love I’m probably looking at things in a lovey-dovey manner; I’m not really thinking. When you’re out of love and you sit back and look at things and put them into perspective.
While we’re talking love, describe your perfect date.
My perfect date would be waking up and going out to eat. Then after we eat, hit a couple blunts, go home, watch a movie and fall asleep on the couch. We get time to talk, time to turn up, and we get food. I think that’s just so perfect.
You’ve performed twice in New York with the Fade to Mind crew. Was the energy there different from Chicago? What impression were you left with?
It was definitely turnt up when I went. I think in Brooklyn they were just really into the music and wanted to hear what I had to say. It was definitely a different vibe, I was kind of shocked because I didn’t really know that so many people rocked with my music while I was on stage, but they loved it and we had a good time. When I perform in Chicago, everybody is sort of staring you down and people really expect a lot. My city shows love to me when I perform but at the same time, it’s always like that ‘what’s she gonna do, what’s she gonna say, is she really what all the people talk about.’ They expect you to really bring it.
What was it like working on a track with Future Brown (Fatima Al Qadiri, Asma Maroof & Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu and J-Cush of Lit City Trax)?
It was so smooth. We locked ourselves in the studio for the whole entire day and everybody threw in their output; it was just real positive. It just felt so easy, everybody knew what they were looking for and what style we wanted, and when I started writing everyone just kind of pitched in a couple ideas and we came up with a dope song.
So you wrote the song? The lyrics are so great.
Yeah, I wrote it. When we were in the lab, I remember they [told me to envision] a club scene, like a fight breaking out in the club, and for some reason from that phrase — the fight breaking out in the club — that’s what I came up with. It sounded like a fight was in slow motion. That’s the image I get when I listen to the song.
Do your friends call you Tink or Trinity?
They call me Tink, that’s actually my real nickname in real life. It’s not a stage name.
Your dad plays guitar and piano and your mother sings. What sort of influence did that have on you as a child?
People don’t really even know this, but when I was like, 11 or 12 years old I was writing for one of my dad’s friends, and he had a girl group and they needed someone to write their songs. I was 11 years old and writing songs for 21 year olds. I already had the creative take on it and was able to put myself in different peoples’ shoes and make a story out of it, so since I was like 11 it just built up.
What kind of things do you have planned for the next couple of months?
I have Winter’s Diary 2 dropping in December, which is gonna be like, fully R&B. It’s coming along great. I’ve been working with Marcus Norris, he actually plays piano with a live band so it’s going to sound really, really nice.
In the first line of your Versace remix you rap, “Stop with the rumors I went to LA and I turned down their offer.” Do you plan to stay in Chicago or move elsewhere?
Honestly, I have plans, I’m moving. I love my city but at the same time there’s so much more to see in the world. I would love to move to LA because the atmosphere is so different. You can live in Chicago but in LA, you free. You don’t have to watch your back too much.
And you’re still, as you call it, underground and overpaid?
Yeah, I’m definitely speaking with different labels right now but I don’t see myself signing anytime soon. It’s all working for me.
What is something that you would most like to achieve in your lifetime?
I really wanna buy my mom a dream house. A phat mansion.
Download or stream Tink’s latest mixtape, Boss Up, here.