R&B singer Jhené Aiko, is known for her smooth soulful voice - in the lyrics, rhythm, beats and tone of her voice. Her new album, “Souled Out” is just that – full of soul. Released Tuesday, this album truly encompasses who Aiko is as an artist and what she is trying to convey to the world.
The Los Angeles native began her musical career in 2002, singing vocals for R&B group, B2K and was signed to The Ultimate Group record label. She featured on five of the songs on their album “B2K: The Remixes – Volume 1” and her song “Dog” was a bonus track on the record. Aiko also made appearances in numerous music videos for many smaller artists. During this time, Aiko made the decision to leave the music industry in order to focus on her education.
After a long hiatus, Aiko returned to music in 2007 and stated on her web site, jheneaiko.com, “Shortly before I conceived my daughter, I stepped back into the field and took a meeting with a label head. In this meeting, I was innocently told to ‘sell’ myself when walking into these meetings. That’s when I decided I would ‘sail’ myself rather than sell myself.”
On March 16, 2011, Aiko released a mix tape entitled “Sailing Souls” on her official web site, JheneAiko.com. The mixtape also featured collaborations from well-known artists, Miguel, Drake and Kanye West. In 2012, Aiko met with Def Jam record producer, No I.D and was signed to Artium Records.
2013 is the year that Aiko obtained fame from working closely with many big-name artists. She was featured on Big Sean’s song, “Beware,” which made it on the Top 40 chart in the United States and was her first song to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100. During that same year, Aiko collaborated with rapper Drake on his songs “From Time” and “Wu-Tang Forever” from his third album, ‘Nothing Was the Same.”
In October 2013, Aiko began touring with Drake on his Would You Like a Tour? concert tour, which helped her obtain much notoriety. Aiko has also worked with other well-known artists such as Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar.
“Souled Out” is similar to Aiko’s last album, “Sail Out,” but contains fourteen songs instead of seven. All of her new songs convey a greater level of honesty, depth and feeling. They represent the people and things that are important to her in her life.
In her song, entitled “W.A.Y.S” she sings, “At 44 minutes to four, an angel walked up to my door, opened the windows to my soul, told me he thinks that I should know, that life only gets harder but you gotta get stronger. This is for my brother; I do this for my daughter. That’s why I keep going, that’s why I keep going, that’s why I keep going.”
This song was written about her daughter, who she had at the age of 20 and her brother, Miyagi, who passed away due to cancer in 2012. It portrays a bold statement about moving forward through the hard times and staying strong despite the trials life throws at people.
Her song called “Promises” also gives off a similar message: “Everything is alright, everything’s in your mind, life is what you make it, life is what you make it. And anything can happen, anything can happen, but you just gotta get past it, you just gotta laugh at it and anything can happen, you fall down get back up and you better believe that nothing is holding me back.”
Aiko’s recurring theme of promoting positivity throughout her lyrics is refreshing and motivational. Her soulful, relaxing music allows listeners to sit back, hear and feel the messages that she is trying to convey.