We Plug To You... Jhené Aiko - Sailing Souls

Hey G.O.O.D folks, I hope there’s some space on your iPods because this is one artist I guarantee you’ll be listening to all week. I first came across Jhené Aiko when I wrote the piece on Kendrick Lamar a little while back and when her single popped up on one of my daily blog lists, I just had to get her mixtape. 

Jhené Aiko Efru Chilombo simply known as Jhené Aiko is a 23-year-old American R&B singer-songwriter born to a multicultural family - her mother is Japanese, Spanish and Afro-Dominican while her father is African American, Jewish and Native American. Jhené, like quite a lot of other artists, was introduced to music at a very young age and had the privilege of meeting music producer and artist manager Chris Stokes when she was only five. In later years, she finally got to sing for him and got signed to Epic Records; at around the same time as R&B boy group B2K (Omarion, Raz B et al).

Jhené - who at the age of fifteen had relative chart success with her first single "No L.O.V.E" reaching number 5 on the US R&B Billboard charts - has had a few of her songs featured on soundtracks to hit movies such as Barbershop, You Got Served, and The Master of Disguise and also featured on quite a number of records and releases with her then label mates B2K. After walking away from her contract with Epic Records and taking time out of the music "industry" to complete her education and becoming a mother, Jhené Aiko is now focused on trying to save the world with her music. I plug to you her debut mixtape Sailing Soul[s] which was recently released on her birthday - March 16, 2011. 

The first track I'll be sharing with you from Sailing Soul[s] is 'Stranger', one of the strongest songs on the mixtape and definitely a good way for you to sail on your musical journey into Jhené Aiko’s world. It features light vocals from Jhene as she painstakingly stays in the same vocal range throughout the song, laced over minimal keyboard arrangements, drum patterns and backing harmonies. In simple terms the lyrics convey the message; all men are the same as her relationships all tend to be comparable. The song is nicely arranged and written and the listening ear would be longing to hear more after this one...
“you said you were different but you’re the same stranger”

This next track 'July' features Drake and is quite an old record which was done a couple of years ago but still sounds just as fresh as if it was recently recorded - remember when this song leaked around the time before Drake released his debut album and we all thought it was from his album. Noticeable though is Jhené who seems more like the featured artist on this one. She sings mostly on the chorus and parts of the hook while providing lush adlibs with rapper Drake handling all 3 verses with his [virtually] never failing wit. The song houses clever lyrics from Jhené relating the relationship in weather-like terms. Their fights in the "Summer" highlight that it isn’t their season leading them to breakup in the "Fall". The title of the song is also pretty apt as listening does lead you to imagine a perfect summer day in July.
“they always say the hottest love has the coldest end”

Remember hearing the phrase, "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars" when you were younger? Without having to think that far back though, we’ve also heard songs of similar titles from Jay-Z and Usher in more recent times - which brings me to this next track from Jhené Aiko - the drums-infused 'Space Jam'. The song literally expresses a situation where she and her significant other are from two different worlds. It highlights the issue of communication in relationships but then goes on in the end to attest that you can actually come together to [form your own world] meet on common grounds. Just like the other tracks on Sailing Soul[s], this is another impressive one from Aiko and would probably be right up there on your most played tracks on the mixtape.
“we come from two different worlds, but there’s only one us”
"Space Jam":

A case of saved the best for last - well you be the judge of that but the last track I'll be plugging to you from Jhené Aiko's Sailing Souls is the guitar-led 'Higher' backed by glorious keyboard and drum arrangements. I mentioned Jhené's wordplay and lyrical dexterity earlier but this song is unquestionably a better implementation and showcase of it. On this song, Jhené refers to herself as the catalyst into getting a guy "high". The mellowness and light delivery exudes innocence on ironically what could be the sexiest song on the album. A very well thought out song even to the tiniest details as you hear hints of someone starting up a light in the background. It infers quite a lot of innuendos I doubt Jhené even realizes herself but the track is smoking and the pun is very much intended.
“love is the drug that gets me high”

Some of the major likes on this mixtape are the fact that the backing instrumentals used on Sailing Soul[s] are never too heavy as to overpower Jhené smooth and sultry vocals - vocals of which provide some of the highlights on this mixtape plus the much welcomed presence of beautiful and meaningful lyrics from the 23 year-old - something R&B music tends to be lacking lately plus the mixtape does a great deal in showcasing a wide range of her talents - from her songwriting skills to her ear for music down to those captivating vocals. Jhené is definitely an artist that knows what her sound is - what I refer to as “New Cali R&B” [think Miguel]. I like it and I hope you do too. As Ebert and Roeper would say – two thumbs up!

Keep tabs on Jhené Aiko: Twitter // Facebook // Website

Download the Sailing Souls mixtape – Sailing Soul(s)

Temi Y. 

1 comment:

  1. It's an easy listening music. This also serves as a good theme for summer.


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