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In a world where the top female musical stars strut their confidence like Rihanna, showcase their diva personalities like Beyoncé and Mariah Carey, and consistently step outside the box like Lady Gaga, there is a voice that has emerged for women who are subtle with their confidence and more minimalist in their fashion choice. For those who want to listen to music from a woman who has the beauty of the Victoria’s Secret model and the intellect of Lauryn Hill, there is Jhené Aiko.
As a Los Angeles native, Jhené got her started under the management of Chris Stokes, who managed her older sister, Mila J, as well as Immature (now known as IMx) and B2K. In the early 2000’s, B2K was a wildly popular R&B boy band who gave Jhené a cameo role in their first video “Uh Huh” and as was introduced to B2K fans as Lil’ Fizz’s cousins (even though they’re not actually related). Though she was featured on a few of B2K’s songs and collaborated with them on songs featured in TV shows and movies such as The Proud Family, Barbershop, and The Master of Disguise, success was slow for Jhené and she decided to leave her label to continue her education.
In 2007, shortly before giving birth to her daughter, Namiko, Jhené Aiko returned to music with her mixtape Sailing Soul(s). With a number of high profiled artist featured, it received a positive response and gained Jhené a new fan base. The support of Jhené’s independent project helped her gain attention from No I.D, a producer and vice president of A&R at Def Jam. No I.D would later sign Jhené to his Artium record label, an imprint of Def Jam and soon she would release Sail Out, which garnered major success and recognition from major music outlets such as Pitchfork media.
With the release of her third project, Souled Out, there seems to be no stopping Jhené or her message. While many compare her to Aaliyah and Ciara (which I heavily disagree with), I see Jhené Aiko as a modern day Sade mixed with the style of Lisa Bonet. Jhené is a modern day hippie, as she has called herself before, and her music is filled with in-depth thoughts and feelings while maintaining a calm, relaxing feeling. Jhené Aiko is able evoke one’s emotions with subtlety and finesse.