Though the term has become ubiquitous, there’s one star who’s certainly earned her “hot girl summer”: Tinashe.
The pop star sizzles in the sand in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue that hit newsstands in July, fulfilling her dream of being one of the annual edition’s bikini babes.
“I was probably 12 or 13 years old and being like, ‘One day I’m going to be in a swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated,” Tinashe, 28, told The Post, adding that she’s a huge fan of veteran cover girl Tyra Banks. “It’s so great to be able to reflect on those things and to see them come full circle.”
Now she’s turning up the temp — and the tempo — even more with her fifth studio album, “333,” out Friday. With breezy bops such as the singles “Pasadena” and “Bouncin,” it’s the perfect mid-summer soundtrack.
“I think it was because I was at home and in lockdown when I created the music,” said Tinashe Kachingwe, who is based in Los Angeles and goes by just her first name. “I went absolutely anti making anything that was melancholy. I was really craving [music] that would put you on your feet, make you want to drive around with the windows down. I really wanted that energy, and so I thought I might as well make it.”
Tinashe says it was her musical mission to get her fans jumping for joy again. “To be a part of something that could give people an outlet, to give people some hope, some excitement, something to bop to, maybe some escapism — yeah, that was the idea behind it all,” she said.
The meaning behind the title comes from what she calls her “angel number,” 333. In divine numerology, the number symbolizes connection to the angels who will guide, support and protect you.
“They represent that you’re on the right path and everything’s kind of going according to plan, so keep going,” said Tinashe. “I feel like I’m coming to terms with the journey that I’m going to go on and really owning that, especially because this is my second project as an independent artist. And I really feel empowered and confident in that path. Also in 2020, I did a lot of self-exploration because I was at home a lot more than I typically was. So I had a lot more time with my thoughts.”
Some of that reflection can be heard on “Small Reminders,” a track that has special meaning to the singer. “It’s full of little affirmations,” she said. “That song kind of puts everything into perspective: We are only here for a limited time, and we should make the most of every experience that we go through.”
Another special song, “It’s a Wrap,” was co-written by her brothers Kudzai, 24, and Thulani, 22, who worked with their big sister at the home studio where she recorded “333.” “I grew up with a very creative family, so it’s fun for me to be able to be in the studio with them,” said the singer, whose father is of Zimbabwean descent and whose mother is white.
Tinashe also collaborated with R&B singer Jeremih, electronic artist Kaytranada and rapper Buddy on “333,” while in the past she’s worked with everyone from Future and A$AP Rocky to Nick Jonas and Usher. But one very special collaborator stands out to her: Britney Spears, who featured Tinashe on her 2016 “Slumber Party” single.
“She’s one of my absolute idols,” said Tinashe. “So to be able to see that dream manifest for me was very surreal. The first album I ever had of my own was Britney Spears’ ‘…Baby One More Time,’ and then to be on one of her albums, it’s kind of trippy.”
Tinashe — who was a child actor (she eventually had a recurring role on “Two and a Half Men”) and was a member of the Vitamin C-founded girl group the Stunners as a teenager — empathizes with the pressures and problems that Spears faced growing up in the spotlight. “I think we should have a lot more grace for people and how they’re able to navigate through those things, because it’s not easy,” she said. “I just want her to win.”
While Tinashe has continued to do some acting — appearing as Mimi in the 2019 “Rent: Live” production — right now she’s strictly focused on music. And, of course, the dancing that goes with it.
Known for her killer moves (she showed off epic trampoline choreography in the viral “Bouncin” video), who would Tinashe like to battle in a dance-off? “My girl Normani,” she said of the Fifth Harmony singer-turned-solo star. “It would be fun and awesome, and would really just raise the bar on these girls.”
You can expect plenty of dancing when Tinashe’s “333” tour kicks off next month, hitting New York City’s Terminal 5 on Sept. 30. “I’m so excited to finally get back on the road,” she said. “I love the live aspect — it’s my favorite part. So not having that was definitely difficult. So knowing that I’m going to be in front of my fans, the energy in the room is going to be crazy.”