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Tinashe On the Meme-Fueled Success of Her Viral Single “Nasty”

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Is somebody gonna match my freak?

It’s the question that’s been on everyone’s mind since R&B singer Tinashe posed it in her song “Nasty,” which has gone viral since its release in April.

While we’re all just trying to find someone who will, in fact, match our nasty, it’s not just the relatability of Tinashe’s lyrics that has found “Nasty” such a large audience. The song has gone viral thanks in part to a guy named Nate. This unassuming British man first came to online attention in February 2023 after posting a video of himself dancing nimbly to soca, winding his hips, and biting his finger.

That video became the foundation for a meme that’s helped Tinashe’s song reach millions of new listeners in April, after an an X user named @grruessome posted Nate’s video on the platform, with "Nasty" playing as the soundtrack.

As of now, that video garnered over 10 million views, 37,000 likes, and over 9,000 reposts. The song's popularity continues to soar, currently ranking at an impressive No. 5 on TikTok’s Viral Top 50 songs chart and at No. 10 on the Spotify Viral 50 in the U.S.

Thousands have used the song on TikTok to imitate Nate’s dance moves, including the singer Omar Apollo, iNFLuencers Quen Blackwell and Larray, and even Tinashe herself.

@omar.apollo

♬ Nasty - Tinashe
@tinashe

Like come onnn #greenscreenvideo

♬ Nasty - Tinashe

The meme morphed from a dance trend to an online prompt when X user @hugetulip, uploaded a post asking: “Who are 2 people that actually did match each other’s freaks?” Some of the responses include Art and Pat from Challengers, Linda and Bob Belcher from Bob’s Burgers, and Rihanna and A$AP Rocky.

Below, Tinashe talks about the viral moment and shares which duo she thinks truly matched each other’s freaks.

TIME: Congrats on the success of “Nasty.” It’s one of those songs that took off organically and just exploded, partly because of how great the song is and, also, Nate’s video. What was your reaction to seeing the video? 

Tinashe: I came across it like anyone else—I saw it on Twitter. All it takes is one person to make one particular edit that just goes up. There have been so many cute edits on Twitter and so many meme-able moments. You can never predict or force any of that to happen. The internet just does its thing, and you have to just be ready for when that moment does happen.

Are you and Nate going to collaborate in any way in the near future?

I would love to collaborate with Nate! He lives in the U.K., I’m going out there in July to do some shows. Maybe we’ll collaborate then, that’d be sick.

You should bring him up on stage when you do “Nasty.” He’s a great dancer!

Yeah, he ate me up in that video!

@nates.vibe

Its time to get nasty when the gym is empty 🔥🔥🔥 • @Tinashe - Nasty Girl • #moretocome #nastygirl #nastygirlchallenge #whiteboy #gotmoves #greenscreen #gymdance #summersong #trending #livelife #havefun #brukit #poledance #funny #tinashe #brukout #natesvibe #viral #glasses #notperfect #butwhocares #hatergonnahate #dance #whine

♬ Nasty - Tinashe

This moment feels like a turning point in the sense that you’re becoming more visible even though you’ve been making music for years. How does it feel that people are finding your music now through this viral moment?

It’s so exciting. This is what you wait and hope for. I’ve been grinding in the music industry for 10 years at this point. I've come to the place where I've accepted my path and I don't really need more validation. I am super thankful for my core faNBAse because they've been there from the jump. But at the same time, like who doesn't want more people to see my hard work and to hear all of the music that we've been making? It's exciting to see how it's affecting the numbers of all my other songs too.

How are you planning on capitalizing on the song’s success?

Just riding the wave right now. Having this social media push is really big for an artist like me because I'm not on a major label, and I don't have the same level of exposure to playlists, to radio, to these other things. I've really had the attitude for the past few years of, all it will take is one viral moment that gets the conversation going. Because I’m prepared to take it to the next level. I'm ready for performances. I'm ready for more videos, remixes, and touring. You gotta stay ready so you never have to get ready.

Speaking of remixes, who are you going to have on the official remix?

We’re juggling a few names. It's really been interesting to see the discourse online. We've tried a few different artists, getting verses from different perspectives, and also just old-fashioned remixes with DJs. So, we haven’t 100% settled on the answer just yet. That’s cool because we were super excited to drop the remix right away, but now it feels like “Nasty” is already doing its own thing. The remixes are coming, but like we can take our time in that regard and just kind of let the song speak for itself.

@tinashe

♬ Nasty - Tinashe

Remixes, plural? There’s going to be more than one?

Yeah!

What does this success mean to you as an independent artist?

It’s amazing, it really validates all of my hard work. Also taking that risk to go independent, it felt a little bit scary. I think staying true to myself and being able to make music that I love and release it the way I want to release it has just propelled me to be a different human being that is much more confident. I’m so much more sure of myself and my path.

Ricky Reed is the producer on this song. He’s worked on huge hits like “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo and Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts." Was there a feeling while working with him, because he’s made so many hits, that this one might pop off?

Honestly, no. I've learned to not have those kinds of expectations going into a room because it sets you up for failure. I used to do that back in the day and I would say “Oh my god, this is the one” and I feel like that always makes a song worse. You put way too much pressure on yourself and you lose that pure creative energy.

We have to ask: Who are two people that you think matched each others’ freaks?

Bella and Edward from Twilight. They were on some weird sh-t, but they were on the same page.

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