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This or That? Western Tink vs. Tink

Politically correct readers rejoice – we’re comparing a male and female rapper today. No one can escape the scrutiny. And the female wins.

Rappers struggle with beats sometimes. You download their mixtape and it feels like they attack the beat the way Will Ferrell and Adam Scott hug in ‘Step Brothers’ – awkward doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Tink is the antithesis of that. The Chicago rapper can find the groove in every beat and fit right into it. Doing everything “right” might not garner more attention than the next “good” rapper, especially when being different often trumps traditional skills these days, but it does solidify her talent in the eyes of doubters. Her cameo in WorldStar’s Chicago rap documentary ‘The Field’ should convince any hesitant listeners to give her music a chance, and songs like ‘Bars’ shine as Tink nails down a host of different cadences. It’s not what she says, but how she says it.

She balances different aspects of her personality on her tapes – she can be a brutal battle rapper on one track and a vulnerable lover on the next. Rappers often have trouble being down-to-earth, perhaps because the collective male ego is so colossal, but female rappers like Tink don’t have that specific set of prejudices to work against, and it ends up giving the listener a broader palette of feelings to reflect on. After all, rappers are humans too.

Beyond content, Tink’s diverse subject matter complements her variety of styles. One of her best songs is ‘Gotta Keep Goin,’ produced by DJ L and delivered with her falsetto touch. An earlier tape of hers, ‘Blunts and Ballads,’ already foreshadowed this dichotomy of singing and spitting, but she balances rap and R&B best on ‘Wanna Party,’ a collaborative effort by Future Brown including dance producers like Fatima Al Qadiri and Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu. It illustrates not only her raw skill, but also her potential to go beyond traditional rap sounds, and that ability to branch out is what puts her above Chicago colleagues like Sasha Go Hard and Katie Got Bandz.

Western Tink is more obscure. The Texas rapper’s hit-or-miss punchlines pepper his raps that detail going through hard times and doing whatever it took to still be here. ‘Mobbin’ No Sobbin,’ his collaborative project with Beautiful Lou (‘Kissin Pink’ producer), was lo-fi dark s—t, filled with stories of struggle, pain and mistrust. That tape makes it apparent that he’s bursting with real life vignettes, but something is missing. Maybe it’s the lackadaisical flows, or the lack of animation, but while Western Tink has something to say, he hasn’t quite figured out how to make people care yet.

He’s better on ‘Bubble Boyz,’ another collaboration tape, this time with Arkansas rapper Pepperboy. From the dreamy Gucci Mane-sampling cut ‘Rollin,’ you already sense that it’s an easier project to get into. Pepperboy’s quirky voice gives Western Tink a reference point to differ from, and the presence of another rapper seems to give Tink more energy when he rhymes. ‘Bubble Boyz’ was one of the best slept-on projects of last year, and it works because every element, from production to voices to flows to samples, jibes well with each other.

Tink and Western Tink serve different purposes. The Chicago MC serves a wider audience – you can smoke to it, f—k to it, ride to it, get hype to it. She can rap and sing with equal ability, and she’s even shown versatility by working in other genres. Western Tink has honed his capabilities with each new project, but he’s still looking for a way to hook more people in, and if he can secure appealing beats and keep his raps honest, he’ll gain more fans in the future.

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