Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo (born March 16, 1988), known as Jhené Aiko or Jhené, is an American singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, California. She embarked on her music career contributing vocals and appearing in several music videos for R&B group B2K. At the time, she was known as B2K member Lil' Fizz's "cousin", though she is not actually related to him. It was used as a marketing tool, suggested by Sony and Epic Records, to promote Aiko through B2K and attract an audience. In 2003, Aiko was set to release her debut album, My Name Is Jhené, through her labels Sony, The Ultimate Group and Epic, however the album was never released, with Aiko asking to be released from the label in order to continue her education.
In March 2011, Aiko made her return to music with the release of her first full-length project, a mixtape titled .sailing soul(s).. On December 16, 2011, Aiko signed a recording contract with American record producer No I.D.'s record label Artium, distributed through Def Jam Recordings. In 2013, Aiko appeared on Big Sean's single "Beware", also featuring Lil Wayne, which became her first Top 40 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In November 2013, she released her first project for Artium and Def Jam, an extended play (EP), titled Sail Out. The EP was supported by the singles "3:16AM", "Bed Peace" and "The Worst", the latter of which went on to become certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Aiko released her major-label debut album, Souled Out, on September 9, 2014.
Jhené Aiko was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Christina Yamamoto and Dr. Karamo Chilombo (né Gregory Wycliff Barnes), a pediatrician. Her older sisters Miyoko and Jamila were in the R&B group Gyrl, and toured with Immature, who were signed to MCA and Silas Records. She is of Japanese, Spanish, Dominican, German Jewish, French, Native American and African American descent.
2002-11: Career beginnings:
Aiko embarked on her musical career contributing vocals to several B2K releases, as well a song on the The Master of Disguise Soundtrack in 2002, while signed to The Ultimate Group and managed by Chris Stokes. During this time she was known as the cousin of B2K's rapper, Lil' Fizz, though she is not actually related to him. It was used as a marketing tool, suggested by her labels Sony, The Ultimate Group and Epic Records, to promote Aiko through B2K and attract an audience; nonetheless Aiko affirms that she and Lil' Fizz grew up together and were close like family. She featured on tracks five through eight of the R&B group's remix album B2K: The Remixes - Volume 1. "Santa Baby", a cover she recorded, was also featured on their album Santa Hooked Me Up and she appeared as a guest vocalist on the song "Tease" from Pandemonium!. Her song "Dog" appeared as a bonus track.
Aiko also appeared in numerous music videos including O'Ryan's debut video, "Take It Slow", B2K's debut video "Uh Huh" and "Why I Love You",P.Y.T.'s "Same Ol' Same Ol' (Remix)" featuring Sarai, Play's "M.A.S.T.E.R. (Part 2)" featuring Lil' Fizz video and Morgan Smith's 2004 video "Blow Ya Whistle". Jhené also has songs featured on the soundtracks of Barbershop,The Master of Disguise,You Got Served,The Proud Family and Byou. She released a video for her single "NO L.O.V.E" (re-recorded from Tha' Rayne version in 2002), which debuted on BET's 106 & Park when she was 15 years old. Aiko was set to release her debut album, then-titled My Name Is Jhené in 2003 through Sony, The Ultimate Group, Epic, however the album was never released due to tension at the record label Epic, which ultimately led to Aiko asking to be released from the label. Aiko later left the aforementioned labels in order to continue her education.
In 2007, she made a return to music, in an interview she spoke on the choice saying "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." Aiko released a mixtape on March 16, 2011 entitled Sailing Soul(s) via her official website, JheneAiko.com. All the songs on the mixtape were written by her, except "July". The mixtape featured collaborations from Miguel, Drake and Kanye West as well as others. To promote the mixtape Aiko was joined by R&B singer Miguel on a one off free secret tour on Sunday, July 15. On October 21, 2012 Aiko released a music video for the song "My Mine". Jhene also released a video for the mixtapes second track "Stranger". In 2011, she also began working closely with artists from Carson-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment such as Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul.
2012-14: Sail Out and Souled Out:
In 2012, Aiko met with No I.D., record producer and vice president of A&R at Def Jam, who ended up signing Aiko to his Artium Records imprint through Def Jam. Aiko released the track "3:16AM", which was made available for digital download on iTunes September 4, 2012. The song was released as the first single from Sail Out. In 2012, Aiko was also the opening act on the highly anticipated "Life Is Good/Black Rage" concert tour headlined by fellow American artists, rapper Nas and singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill. In June 2013, Aiko was featured on the Big Sean song "Beware", which became her first song to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100. In October 2013, it was revealed Jhené Aiko would open for Canadian rapper Drake on his Would You like a Tour? concert tour.
Aiko then released her debut EP Sail Out, on November 12, 2013. The EP debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 34,000 copies. On January 14, 2014, "The Worst" was serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States as the album's third single. On May 2, 2014 "The Worst" rose from three to one on the airplay Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop, in doing so she became the first female artist to top the chart as a lead with a debut single since Jazmine Sullivan in 2008. The song peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at forty-three, becoming Aiko's first solo release to chart in the region, the song also peaked at number eleven on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
On January 18, 2014, Aiko appeared on Saturday Night Live performing the song "From Time", with the episode's guest host, Drake. In a January 2014 interview with Vibe, Aiko announced her debut studio album Souled Out would be released in May 2014. However the album would be delayed. On March 16, 2014, Aiko premiered a song titled "My Afternoon Dream," produced by Key Wane, along with an accompanying music video directed by Aiko and Krissy. On June 23, 2014, "To Love & Die", was released for digital download as the albums lead single. Following its release "To Love & Die" debuted and peaked at number forty-six on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. On June 26, 2014, Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd, announced he would be headlining the "King of the Fall Tour", essentially a mini-tour across America in September / October 2014, the tour will consist of four shows and start on 19 September 2014 in New York, at the Barclays Center and end on October 10 in San Francisco, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Aiko and frequent collaborator ScHoolboy Q, were confirmed as the tour's supporting acts, respectively.
After three years of recording Aiko released her debut album Souled Out on September 8, 2014. An anticipated release, the album was released to commercial and critical success. The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 70,000 copies in its opening week, in doing so the album became that weeks second highest debut and doubled the first week sales of Aiko's debut extended play Sail Out (2013). The album also debuted at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and US R&B Albums and has sold 121,012 units in the US. The album produced a further three singles: the album's second single, "The Pressure", was released on iTunes on July 18, 2014. The Pressure debuted at number twenty five on the US Hot R&B Songs chart, and peaked the following week, at number twenty three. "Wading" was released as the albums third single on December 12, 2014 along with an accompanying video, followed by the release of Spotless Mind
2015: Recent projects:
In February, 2015, Aiko was nominated for three grammys at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, including "The Worst" for Best R&B Song and Sail Out for the best Best Urban Contemporary Album. The same month it was announced that Aiko would join rapper J. Cole on his tour entitled, Forest Hills Drive Tour. On March 19, 2015 Aiko released the free song "Living Room Flow."
Aiko was baptized when she was 16 at the evangelical Pentecostal Foursquare Church. She dated American R&B singer O'Ryan, from 2005 to 2008. At the age of 20, Aiko gave birth to her daughter Namiko Love, with O'Ryan on November 19, 2008. Before losing her brother Miyagi to cancer on July 19, 2012, Aiko recorded "For My Brother" on her laptop, which was initially intended only for her brother's ears. He died soon after hearing the record. On August 27, 2013, Aiko was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles along with her daughter Namiko, older sister Miyoko, and her daughter's father O'Ryan. Aiko suffered a broken wrist, chipped tooth and had stitches in her chin. Her daughter was unharmed in the accident. In September 2014, Aiko revealed she was in a relationship with New York City-based record producer Oladipo "Dot da Genius" Omishore, who produced the songs "Limbo Limbo Limbo" and "Wading", from her debut album Souled Out.
Voice and music:
Aiko's voice was described as having "gentle pop-tinged vocals ... a sensually sweet voice", and Jim Farber of the New York Daily News described her voice as having a "feathery tone, sky-high pitch and dazed delivery" that floats "above the beat, sexy and aloof"; Farber said she was "the female answer" to Frank Ocean. Jordan Sargent of Pitchfork Media compared Aiko's vocals to those of R&B singers Cassie, Brandy, Ciara and, the late Aaliyah. Thermatically Aiko's work contains direct and "acute", lyrics that can be sometimes "girlish." Adam Fleischer of MTV described Aiko's lyrical content as being "catchy and emotive," continuing to note Aiko's lyrics as having no boundaries; which mix "moments of sensitivity and love, but also moments of confusion and aggression."
Aiko's newfound style lies somewhere between the soothing sounds of Sade and what can be nebulously described as "future R&B," a broad spectrum of pioneering music-makers making tunes best served in the midnight hour, including The Weeknd, Tinashe and FKA twigs.
-- Bradley Stern, Time
Jhene's musical style is associated with a new wave of music PBR&B, which is described as emerging, stylistic alternative to contemporary R&B. Besides PBR&B Aiko's explores a variety of genres including Psychedelic music, classic R&B and hip hop music. Aiko has described herself as being part of this movement, she noted her own musical style as being "alternative" and a "new-generation R&B", which she compared herself to the style of Frank Ocean, Miguel and Drake. Described by Erin Lowers a reviewer from XXL magazine, Aiko's music is alternative R&B, which the reviewer described had being created with the use of heavily used synthesizers and "wooly drum loops," the reviewer continued to say that her genre is caught in a "revolutionized limbo." Bradley Stern of Time, compared the Aiko's musical style to the work of Sade, calling the albums genre "future R&B," Stern continued to compare the her music to the work of The Weeknd, Tinashe and FKA twigs.
Aiko writes music everyday, often writing lines or a poem, and begins to add them to melodies. She describes her writing style as "freestyle," where she just says how she is feeling, taking a day or up to a month to complete. During the recording of the album Aiko opted to freestyle when writing the album, she would have a beat or would sit with producers and she would sing a melody until she had words, she described the process as not having a lot wrote down saying "there's not a lot of writing down--I'll only write it down to make sure it makes sense after I come up with it. For the most part, I like to not have second thoughts." Aiko revealed that whilst writing music she enjoys being high in order to use the feeling as inspiration and that for the entire writing and recording process of her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s), she was under the influence of cannabis. When writing for her debut studio album, she did the same, but recorded while sober. Aiko places great importance on writing her own music, believing it defines her as an artist: "After each song I've lost like a piece of me, because I've put it in to (sic) the song."
Aiko cites American rapper Tupac as a major influence saying he's "a big inspiration for me just to stick to who I am and to actually stand for something through music." and "an icon for speaking your mind and being you, even if it's controversial". Aiko also cites R&B singer Aaliyah,Eminem and Kendrick Lamar as influences. Jhené cites rapper Kid Cudi as an influence, stating Cudi is "pretty much one of the only people that I listen to consistently. No matter what he puts out, I'm one of those fans. He can do no wrong in my eyes."
Aiko also cites Brandy Norwood as an influence saying "I always say the person who taught me how to sing indirectly because I listened to her all the time was Brandy. I fell in love with her voice when I was six years old. I always loved Brandy." Aiko also listens to Beyoncé to learn from her vocal technique and is also influenced by India.Arie and Amel Larrieux. Aiko is influenced by John Mayer saying "He's probably one of my number one musical influences because of his writing ability and his voice."
During the recording of her debut extended play "Sail Out" (2013) Aiko stated she took a large amount of influence from hip-hop and rap music notably the genres beats. Aiko has stated growing up in a musical family influenced her, noting her siblings bands as an influence, Aiko also cited R&B band TLC as an influence when growing up. During the 1990s she began listening to Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, and Lil' Kim, stating her influences were a mixture, following this Aiko began listening to Sade Adu. Singer Nick Jonas cited Aiko as influence during the recording of his debut album, noting her alternative R&B sound as his influence.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license