R&B singer Jhené Aiko gained a strong following with the release of her mixtape Sailing Soul(s) in 2011. She may have attracted more listeners with features from Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Drake but it’s her profound songwriting and soulful voice that has kept her fan base growing. Today marks the release of her highly anticipated first studio album Souled Out. Find out why you should pay attention to this petite singer who uses her mic to tell her story.
1. She writes her own songs.
Lyric: “Please don’t take this personal but you ain’t sh-t and you weren’t special til I made you so. You better act like you know that I’ve been through worse than you. I just can’t keep running away.”
On “The Worst,” her single from her 2013 EP Sailed Out, Aiko captures exactly how it feels to feel bitter and in love. She never shies away from revealing the truth, no matter how brash or vulnerable she may sound. She pours her life into her lyrics. There’s no formula. What you are hearing is Aiko’s life delivered cleverly through a melody.
2. She comes from a musical family.
Aiko is one of eight siblings. Her two older sisters Miyoko and Jamila were in a girl group called Gryl and once they split, Jamila went on to have a solo career as “Mila J“. With older siblings in the game, Aiko has strong supporters who can show her the ropes. Even though Jhené has taken off faster than Mila J, the Aikos are all about support and love. Aiko is also cousin’s with B2K’s Lil’ Fizz, who is currently one of the stars of Love & Hip Hop Hollywood.
3. She’s a young single mom.
Aiko has a five year old daughter named Namiko with O’Ryan Omir Browner, R&B singer Omarion’s brother. To have a child a 20-years old and continue to pursue a career in music, Aiko is an inspiration to other single parents who still want to pursue their dreams.
4. She has a close friendship with Childish Gambino.
Rapper, writer and actor Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is a good friend, collaborator and acting mentor to Aiko. He directed her video for “The Pressure” and featured on her single “Bed Peace” in 2013. Having Childish as an admirer and close confidant is a great step for Aiko’s career and shows that her talent appeals to a broader audience outside of music.
5. She is a style influencer.
Aiko’s style is bohemian with a twist of glam. She’s always trying something new, whether it’s with her clothes or her hair.
6. She’s AMAZING live.
Here are some of her best live performances:
“In Love We Trust” for V TV 2013
“3:16 AM” for Live Bytes 2013
“The Worst” for Future Festival 2014
“Bed Peace” for Rap-Up Sessions 2013
7. She is about to blow up.
Souled Out has been out for less than 24 hours and fans are already flooding twitter with their undying love for her new album.
— Nadia Imani (@nonFuckinFactoR) September 9, 2014
— SouledOutSavedMyLife (@AmaniBlair15) September 9, 2014
— S I M B A (@YngAnReklessss) September 8, 2014
[Photo: Getty Images]