Tink is one of the most promising musicians out of Chicago right now and has been known locally for years. At the top of 2014, her Winter’s Diary 2 gained considerable attention for the singer and rapper, and Timbaland soon got involved in her career. That’s where things kind of went sour. The ultimate flop was an initial single called “Ratchet Commandments,” a misstep that led to a few others, namely Timbaland’s insistence that Aaliyah’s spirit was somehow inhabiting the trajectory of Tink’s career. That kind of rhetoric is a disservice to both of them, and the release of this tape feels like a recalibration; Tink is talking in her own language again.
Accordingly, Winter’s Diary 3 is great. It kicks off with “I Like.” It’s the only song here we’ve heard before, and when she released it I said it sounded more like Winter’s Diary 2 than any of her other one-off tracks. Most of these songs fit comfortably into that same style, jumping back and forth between soulful singing and drill-influenced rapping in a way nobody else has been able to successfully replicate. The highlight here is probably the ride-or-die love song “Very Very,” which manages a curt, cordial nod to K. Michelle in the same way “I Like” slyly alludes to Chief Keef.
Even the sinister, Timbaland-produced anti-monogamy anthem “L.E.A.S.H.” is great. Tink is so sensual on “There’s Somebody Else” you’d think it was a hookup track, but really it’s a song about discovering your man is cheating on you. Songs like this one point to her greatest strength: She makes music that shines a light on aspects of relationships that generally aren’t talked about. “There’s Somebody Else” is built off the hook “Say yes,” which is usually a positive thing, but in this case it’s a confirmation of betrayal. It’s just a brilliant songwriting technique. The disco-infused “Afterparty” is a sex-positive closer that willfully reclaims that event from another, more infamous Chicago R&B singer. Or there’s “Stripclub,” a song that would be at home in its titular environment, which details the dark story behind one of the club’s strippers. Songs like “Stripclub” indicate why it’s so important that we elevate female voices; can you imagine a man telling a story like that? The stories Tink tells are ones we wouldn’t get from anyone else, which is why her return to form feels so crucial. Listen below or download it for free here.