How Tink Made ‘Thanks 4 Nothing’ Sound So Damn Good
When Tink named her latest album Thanks 4 Nothing, she meant it a few different ways. “Thanks 4 Nothing can mean so much,” says the Chicago singer. “It can mean thanks for not giving me a gift on Valentine’s, or thanks for not giving me enough energy, enough effort. Thanks for not being there.” There’s a genuine feeling in there: “Thanks for giving me the mindset to know I can do things without you,” she adds. “I can carry on without anything.”
Day-one Tink fans know how much honesty and emotion she pours out into her music — two pillars of R&B that can seem to be missing from much of the genre these days. Tink brings both qualities to projects like last year’s seductive Pillow Talk. This time, she chose to go for even more transparency, writing a lot of the tracks herself in her own space. “I wanted to make an album dedicated to single girls or girls going through a breakup or anyone that is just trying to stand on their own,” she says. “With every song, I wanted there to be a message.”
Tink is good at telling stories that connect to fans who have been through some of the same situations. With more than 1.5 billion streams to date, it is clear that her music resonates with fans on a larger scale — and now she wants to use that platform for all it’s worth. “This time I wasn’t thinking about anything except making sure each song will be something you remember when they cut the music off,” she says. “The other albums, I was kind of just taking a lot of records and making them my own. But this one, I brought everything to the table.”
After she signed with Timbaland in 2015, the high expectations on Tink to be the next Aaliyah didn’t necessarily pan out. But she rebuilt her career independently around 2018, signing a distribution deal with Empire, and pivoted in a way many artists in the same position might not have been able to do.
Tink joined forces with producer Hitmaka for the 2021 project Heat of the Moment and continued their work together on Pillow Talk and the new album. Tink credits their chemistry to not only both being Chicago natives, but to their whole process being a collaborative experience. “I’ve worked with producers, and sometimes the energy doesn’t mesh or sometimes a producer will want to lead the entire process,” Tink says. “For me, I like to work alone and I’m opinionated about my music. I have to have my voice heard, and he gets that, so it’s very easy. And that’s when we get the best results, when it ain’t forced or when it’s just natural.”
Thanks 4 Nothing started when Tink had a few records from about three years ago that she felt strongly about, along with Hitmaka and a team of other producers who had records they wanted to send her way. After taking some time to go back home to Chicago, Tink was able to build the concept for the album, and she credits the city for inspiration. “I feel like when I’m in Chicago I find the strongest concepts,” she says. “My tone is more aggressive. The lingo I use is different. I wanted to make sure I went home and recorded a couple joints to myself.” The process of making the album began in October 2022 and wrapped up this year in early January.
In a visit to Rolling Stone‘s office, Tink broke down the process of making some essential tracks from Thanks 4 Nothing, including the album intro “Fake Love” and the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted single “Let Down My Guard.”
That’s the first song on the album, and I wanted to really just kind of smack niggas in the face with the first song, you know? When you put the album on, you immediately know what time it is, and that’s what “Fake Love” is about. It’s setting the tone. I’m angry on that record, and that’s what I wanted this album to feel like — just very aggressive and strong-minded.
I believe OG Parker produced this with Hitmaka and they sent me a pack with this beat on it. I was in Chicago when I wrote it. When I heard the beat, I immediately went into my feels. It had the soft piano playing in the beginning. What was crazy is when I laid the record down, Hitmaka had the idea to put that intro in from the second verse. At first I was like, “Man, I don’t know if we should just go right into that strong.” That “these days” comes in really loud and hard. But they love it. We cut it and pieced it in Miami. It came together crazy.
“Save Your Soul”
I recorded that song in Atlanta, and the title is so deep. I felt like I had to pop my shit more on that record, just because of its title, “Save Your Soul.” I’m speaking to everyone in general, women and men. We wanted to make a record to say “be a boss.” It was a lot of fun making this record. I wrote that with Ivory Scott, an incredible writer. “Save Your Soul” is like, save yourself, do what’s right for you.
“Someone on You”
When the record comes on, you instantly go back and get that nostalgic feeling. I wrote that record in Chicago as well, and we wanted to make sure that the song wasn’t just like a duplicate of “Make a Movie” by Twista. So when we cut it, Hitmaka told me to write it from another perspective. I wanted to spin it and give it my own sauce. On “Someone on You” I’m really just saying I’m having questions, I’m having thoughts, assumptions, like, “Is it someone on you?” As women, we always question things, but that’s why I relate to that one. I was just being really vulnerable, man. You got to ask your man, like, “Is there someone else?”
“I’m the Catch”
“I’m the Catch” was actually one of the older records I did in the past that I brought back. I remember I wrote it in Chicago and I had to have been going through a relationship breakup, and I wanted to make a record that made me feel good, a record that I could put on to uplift myself. “I’m the Catch” is that record. It’s full of captions for the girls or for whoever. In this world you kind of have to be your own best fan. So “I’m the Catch” is for anybody that’s going through it, and questioning your worth. That’s the record you put on when you want to feel like that bitch.
“Let Down My Guard”
[Does this one sample Jamie Foxx, “DJ Play a Love Song”?]
Yes it does! And that’s a classic. That’s one of my favorites, too, with Ty Dolla $ign. Hitmaka wrote that record with Ivory Scott and when I cut it, of course, I had to send it off to Ty. I was just praying that he could see the vision with it. When he sent it back, he went all the way out, and I had to go back in and add more because I was like, “Ty is going crazy! He’s adding backgrounds.” So we sauced it up after he sent it. It doesn’t even sound like we’re in two separate studios, it feels like a duet.
On “Let Down My Guard,” I’m asking a guy, “Is it OK to be comfortable with you? Can I trust you?” After we go through so much in our relationships, we are always kind of skeptical. It takes time to learn somebody all over again and express yourself, so that record is asking, “Is it OK to open up to you? Am I safe to trust you?”
“Stingy” with Yung Bleu. That’s my dog. I’ve known him for a long time, and we’re at the same company, Empire. So he is always open and ready to work with me. But what was so crazy is I didn’t really care for the record when I first heard it. I almost passed on it, and Hitmaka asked me a couple of times, like, “Just write one verse and see how it feels.” Bleu sent me that record, it was his and then I kind of added my verse, and then we put Bleu on the second. “Stingy” is another one of those feel-good records. I feel like as a person, I’m very stingy about my love. We only want one person to be exclusive to us, and me and Bleu were kind of just speaking from a hood perspective, too, which is really dope. I was able to go to my roots and really talk my shit.
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