I had the gracious opportunity to speak with soultry West Coast singer and songwriter Jhene 'Aiko(juhh-nay ahh-ee-ko). Fellow Claflinite & blogger, India Hill also got to speak with her earlier this year. Growing up around music, Jhene' Aiko developed a sound & voice that can be duplicated by no other. Originally being signed with Sony Epic at 12, she is no novice when it comes to the music industry. Now she is older & wiser & has composed the highly successful Sailing Souls mixtape. Reflecting on Sailing Souls, she elaborates on how Sailing Souls was a project meant to prove something to herself & be an outlet of therapy. At the time of its production, Jhene' Aiko was working as a waitress & taking care of her daughter. Sailing Souls tells stories of relationships, & an emotional soul on a journey. It is her nostalgia for the year 2011. She is now preparing to release a completed new project Souled Out under No I.D.'s Atrium Records, a label in partnership with Def Jam.
Favorite Song(s) from Sailing Souls?
1) My Mine
2) Space Jam
3) You vs Them
Could you explain the significance of your most recent releases?
The symbolism in 3:16am & the teaser?
Well I was born March 16th which is 3/16. 3:16 happens to be one of the most translated scriptures in the Bible which is John 3:16. And also for me 3am, but more specifically 3:16am is the time of night when I'm in my deepest darkest thoughts. & so it's one of those things when people look at the clock & it says 12:34 & I always catch 3:16. & it's crazy because its my birthday & it has all these significant meanings. So the song 3:16 basically is exploring all of my deepest darkest thoughts. It's been said that the time between 3am & 5am are the hours during the darkest point of the night & its also the time when your body is most vulnerable, like your immune system is down & you're at your weakest. So 3:16 symbolizes all of that.
Will there be a full version of 3:16am?
Yes, yes, very soon
Any new videos coming out any time soon
Yeah definitely, definitely. Souled Out is done, & right now it's all about getting everything done to release it. Dealing with a label now I can't just put stuff out, the good thing about being with Def Jam/No I.D./Atrium is everything takes time so that its gets as much response as it can. So I know its been a while but I want it to be as soulful and as complete as it should be. But definitely, as soon as possible it's going to be out.
What is the significance of the title Souled Out, & how does it connect with Sailing Souls
Sailing Souls was talking about relationship stuff. I talk about a few other things too. Souled Out is really a piece of my soul written all over every track. It's me being super honest with myself & the things that hurt me the most. The feelings that people are scared to talk about. Talking about really personal situations with people in my life. It's really really personal. There are some songs on there that are dark, but they are just honest. With Souled Out, this is my one & only shot so I put everything into it. It's deeper than Sailing Souls. The significance of the title Souled Out is it's all me, my soul. To me to be souled out is to be completely free & sailing, going with the wind & being completely honest with yourself.
Being that you've collaborated with TDE(Top Dawg Entertainment) on several occassions, there's some confusion on your actual affiliation. So could you clarify that for all your fans?
TDE, we all grew up in LA. It's kind of just like mutual friends. Everything is tightly knitted, so you end up working together. We ended up vibing well with each other together. Those guys, I'm always going to work with them & support them & rep for them. But I'm signed with Atrium, which is No I.D.'s label with Def Jam.
Sierra: Can you tell us any features that will be on Souled Out?
I can say that Ab Soul is on there. I don't want to give any confirmations & for whatever reason it not happens. I can tell you who I'm pushing for.Big Sean. I would die for Kid Cudi to be on Souled Out. I would die for Eminem to be on Souled Out. Kendrick Lamar. Right now nothing is confirmed. Even for featured that I've done, I'm not sure. I want to do something with Nas. So it's more so whoever hears the song & wants to get on. If they want to create something with me before they put it out there then that's what's going to happen.
River: How has your opinion about the music industry changed since being affiliated with B2K?
It hasn't changed. I was 5 or 6 years old when I first started singing. My mom was their manager. So I was around everything. The music. The business. I grew up with a great understanding of what it was to be 12 or 13 performing & being signed to a label & being critiqued at such a young age. I think that made me more aware of what I wanted & what I didn't want as far as being signed to label & the control that I wanted of my own music & my own image. It hasn't really changed, if anything I just know more now & I know what I want & don't want.
Aeo: How do you feel or look at your evolution as an artist?
I feel like as a person, everyday I'm trying to know more & learn more about life. As for music, a lot of people are like 'I hope she doesn't change & I hope she stays true to the Sailing Souls sound'. & of course I'm always going to have the same morals & beliefs, but at the same time the human process is to grow. If anything, I'll be becoming more me. I evolve everyday. That's my goal. At night if I need to know at least one new thing, if I need to see at least one level of it. I think it shows in the music, I think people will hear it in Souled Out. It's definitely evolved sound, evolved topics.
Isha: Would you support your daughter if she wanted to become involved in the music industry knowing how things work?
Yeah, I would support her in anything she wants to do. I would definitely tell her my experience. Her experience may not be my experience. But I definitely would encourage her to stay in school & finish school. & still nurture her natural gifts. I personally was home schooled since the 7th grade. There was a lot of stuff that I experienced out of order. It worked for me, but I don't know if that would work for her. So I would encourage her to stay in school, keep her friends, & not try to start a career at 12 or 13 years old. It'll be there, it's more important for her to nurture her talents & grow into who she is before she tries to tell the world who she is.
I've been approached to do several different tours, & right now is all about timing & figuring out exactly what is the best tour. With the release of the new music, definitely tours are in the near future.
A lyric or phrase that describes Jhene Aiko and her music.
The first verse in In Love We Trust:
"In the heart of LA there's a lost little girl with a head full of curls with the weight of the world on her shoulders..."
Jhene Aiko - 3:16am (Teaser)
Connect with Jhene Aiko:
Keeping A Close Eye -UMG, Latrice S.