Now and again, a song comes along that perfectly captures a feeling. Music can encompass emotion better than anything else. And when two superstar artists are on the same track, that’s the perfect recipe for elevating that emotion even more. After a tumultuous year, Cheat Codes and Tinashe's "Lean On Me" is the kind of song that can instantly lift your spirits when you need it most.
Cheat Codes, a trio comprised of Trevor Dahl, Matthew Russell, and Kevin Ford, released the first part of their three-part debut album, HELLRAISERS, on May 7. Across the 11-track record, which features several high-profile collabs, the concept of emotion takes center stage. The album title is a nod to the nickname they were given by Michael Theanne, their late manager who passed away unexpectedly in March 2020. And with “Lean On Me,” the lead single, the group aims to share a message of hope for fans who’ve felt isolated amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This song is really on brand with everything we're going through,” Tinashe tells Elite Daily. "I think that's probably why I connected with it so much. I think we've all been through quite the year and we've all had ups and downs. It's really rewarding to see the type of people who have come through for us and have been there for us. It's all about friendship and love, and those types of relationships that have really kept us all going."
The song's chorus represents that sentiment best, with lyrics like, "Promise when you're falling / You can lean on me / Baby, when you're falling / You can lean on me / When you don't feel strong / When you don't believe.”
For Cheat Codes, Tinashe was their dream collaborator. "We've always wanted to work with Tinashe," Dahl says. "We're just happy we were able to find an idea that we both connected with and were able to come together and make something special... we sent her the idea, she did her thing, wrote her section and killed it."
The video for "Lean On Me" shows Tinashe and the trio of bandmates hitting the streets and carrying out random acts of kindness. That was the message of the song that spoke to Tinashe the most. "I just want to spread positive energy and good vibes going into the rest of this year," she says. "I think we're all excited to see what the future holds... I hope when everyone listens to it, they feel the good vibes, they feel happy, and they feel that togetherness."
Tinashe has never been one to box herself in creatively. In February 2019, she announced her decision to become an independent artist and cut ties with RCA Records. Her reasoning? Tinashe wanted complete control over her sound and the chance to experiment with new genres.
"I've felt really limited anytime I was placed within a genre. For me to be able to have opportunities like collaborating with Cheat Codes, people that are a little bit more outside of what I typically do, I love it,” she says. “It's amazing to be able to bring two different artists that make slightly different sounds and create something that sounds beautiful and amazing together."
And in a time when fans are leaning on music to heal, Tinashe knows it's time to let her guard down and crank the creativity up. "It's really nice to be able to break free of all the molds and the labels and just create music for the sake of creating music," she says.
Fans can expect to hear HELLRAISERS parts two and three in the months ahead. For now, Cheat Codes is busy promoting their new single and celebrating the success of the trilogy's first installment. “‘Lean On Me’ is definitely my top favorite song on the album, and I'm just excited for people to hear it,” Dahl says. “Like Tinashe said, it's the perfect song for right now and what people need to hear. It's very, very timely.”