I can’t help but think of Mary J. Blige when I think of Jhené Aiko’s EP, Sail Out, a seven track album featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, and Ab-Soul.
There is over a decade of differences in terms of trends and sound, but there are similarities that remains in both of their work--the urban raw honesty; the rap collaborations, the haunting ache that women praise when we sail through the lows and highs of love.
Jhené’s voice is a honey dipped rolled leaf. A golden dream. A 90’s melodic resurrection laced with the la from L.A. There is still an immediacy to her work. Her sound is not outdated. She is definitely riding the wave of slowed downed hip hop beats.
In the first song, The Vapors, Jhené plays with innuendo by using the image of hitting a vapor to rekindling an affair by asking, “Can I hit it again?”
Bed Peace is the most upbeat song on the EP. It is about what a perfect day would look like. What I love most about this song is that it definitely speaks to the babymama in me. I would love to stay in bed all day with my lover. Those moments aren’t often, but are definitely appreciated.
The third track, Stay Ready (What a Life), is a two part song that features California’s own Kendrick Lamar. Stay Ready is a love song that emphasizes seizing the moment with a lover because “all that I know is right now… so you gotta stay ready.” Then, the song mixes into What a Life, a flip side to the first half of the track. Here, two lovers are too busy to be with one another because of their career choices.
Wth features Ab-Soul. A trippy, smoked out, track. In this song, the singer is tripping on a love that doesn’t seem right. “I may have gotten way too high.” Meaning, I may have gotten myself too deep into this situation.
Then after we consider getting too high, we are moved to The Worst. We use this phrase all the time, “He was the worst!” This song is about wanting a lover whom she doesn’t need and is no good for her, but still loves. The song also tells us something about the speaker’s confusion and past because Jhené sings, “I’ve been through worse than you.” But, the song is entitled, “The Worst.” So, who is the worst? Her or him?
3:16 AM is the lunacy that happens when you are sleep deprived and also the feeling of exhaustion of placing all your energy in one person. The album is finished by a freestyle, Comfort Inn Ending. A song that Jhené sings/raps about being cheated and lied to.
Jhené Aiko is definitely a fresh voice in the R&B game. With her soft voice and the deep base of the beats, the combination is reminiscent of what Mary did early on in Hip Hop and R&B. As of late, I've fell out of R&B and moved toward Soul music with singers like Jill Scott and Lianne La Havas. However, the hood has been missing that balance of street, lyrics, and blues... until now.
I look forward to seeing what is next for Ms. Jhené Aiko.