Jhene Aiko Bares Her Soul


Abigail Adams '16, ARTS & LEISURE EDITOR

If you don’t know Jhene Aiko, it’s probably because she keeps to herself. Her website reads “I signed to Epic/TUG as a 12-year-old child, and asked to be released from both companies at the age of 16 to finish high school.” She explains her ambition to stay true to herself; “I escaped the made up world of Hollywood to experience the natural beauty of the real world.”

Aiko’s second album, titled “Souled Out” keeps her personal R&B style; mixing island and R&B beats to encompass her vast array of emotions. Subtle horn lines and Conga drums showcase the easy listening aura of this album.

Listening to “Souled Out” from start to finish almost feels like one big long song. Most tracks are dealing with life and lost love. R&B is not for everyone, most people find it boring and sleepy. “Souled Out” is not an album built for pre-gaming before the Cuse game or cruising down the highway at 80mph. But there is serious talent poured all over this album.

Clever songs like “Lyin King” and “Wading” both have dual meanings. In “Lyin King,” Aiko compares a man to a lion king; “Breaking hearts just to see what is inside/go around stealing em/feedin em to your pride.” The song, although fairly upbeat, still serves as a reminder that heartbreak just plain sucks. While the song “Wading” juggles with the idea of wading vs. waiting for someone. Aiko slips back and forth between the two, almost signifying a loss for clarity in the situation that comes off as immensely relatable.

Aiko has a unique way of singing which showcases her fairy-like sweet vocals on every song. Her voice is low key and very relaxed usually following a snappy or low bass beat as we hear on a standout track off the album called “Spotless Mind.” The tropical song makes you want to lay in some warm sand under the sun as Aiko highlights, singing “Lani Kai was nice, turquoise seas and ocean breezes.”

Near the end of the album we hear more powerful emotions, like on the song “Eternal Sunshine” [the title speaks for itself]. A bittersweet tune that tugs at the heart strings. Aiko seems to be looking at her life over her shoulder and nodding in agreement as if she’s content with the way her life has gone so far. “Eternal Sunshine” is that bittersweet moment when something ends, but it was a good something. A luxurious piano melody plays behind Aiko’s plush-like vocals.

“Souled Out” is stocked full with every emotion. Aiko’s music has always been about good vibes and good feelings. Considering she is a mother of a young girl, Namiko, she often talks about her daughter and the love she has for her, as you hear in the acoustic guitar driven track “Promises.” Her daughter is featured in the song alongside her mother, singing in the most adorable voice “Promise I’ll be alright.”

Jhene Aiko may be a little short in terms of number one hits on this album but the passion comes in a full dosage. As Aiko says on her website “I am a writer, so I never stopped writing, I am a singer, so I never stopped singing.”