KillerHipHop Exclusive: Jhené Aiko Interview
For women in R&B it is truly a competition on who has the best vocals and music. We have people like Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Sade, and more. Then there is Jhené Aiko, a Cali girl with so much soul, that she truly is sailing. Many may know Jhené from the vocals of a summer-hit song “July” featuring Drake. The song took blogs by storm and it truly introduced Jhené to the world. Miss Aiko has been in the music industry for quite some time now, when back in the day B2K was signed with Epic Records, she was signed as well. She served as the opening act for B2K on the Scream Tour 3.
Jhené was humble enough to open up to KillerHipHop.com and have a one-on-one conversation with Eric Kidd on what Miss Aiko has been up to, her new deal with producer NO I.D., Drake, Yeezy, her upcoming projects and so much more.
KHH: Who is Jhene?
JA: She is a mother, a writer. She can be anything at any given moment. She is passionate about expressing herself. I do writing and music. I’m just very free-spirited, always going with the flow.
KHH: Do you think growing up, everything that is happening in your life right now is exactly what you planned?
JA: Growing up, I never really had a set plan. I knew I wanted to be comfortable. I never really had any specific goals. I think that helps me throughout life. I never really had expectations. I am always prepared either way, cause I really don’t expect anything.
KHH: Do you think singing was your elite dream as you got older?
JA: I always thought that writing was going to be my main thing. Back when I was in elementary [school] it was just English, writing, creative writing. So when I really got into singing, maybe when I was like 9 or 10, that’s when I started realizing that I may be good at it. That’s when I started putting more energy into singing.
KHH: Your style of music is definitely different from your typical R&B mixtape, where do you categorize your style of genre and singing?
JA: That’s been hard for me to do because I pull from so many different types of music and different types of artist that to me I can’t really say. One day, my manager and I, came up with “young-adult contemporary music” and it’s like a Sade but a younger and more ‘hip-hop influenced’ Sade. It’s still R&B and has elements of everything. I just like to call it “Honest Music” like Frank Ocean, Drake, and The-Weeknd are doing the same type of music and it really is the lyrical content is true to life.
KHH: Speaking of lyrical content, did you write 100% of Sailing Soul(s)?
JA: Yeah, except for “July” which was done by Mika Paul. He wrote the hook for “July”. But every other song, I wrote 100% of.
KHH: I was going through forums and people like to compare you as a girl version of Frank Ocean, what do you think about that?
JA: I’m a big fan of Frank Ocean. He’s dope. So that’s a big compliment to me. I can see what they’re saying, I think we’re both story tellers. We have the same type of feel; mellow, hip-hop, and R&B.
KHH: Any upcoming work for Jhene with Frank Ocean?
JA: I met up with him and he’s really busy right now but I was up to collaborate with him.
KHH: The features on the Sailing Soul(s) include rappers like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and much more. How did those collaborations come about?
JA: Well the Drake one happened because we had a mutual friend that was working with Drake at the time. Drake and I met up, he wrote a hook for the song July and he asked me if he can do verses on it. A couple of months later they sent me the song with him rapping on it and then it was on the radio a couple of times. The Kanye feature, we just took it off from the BET cypher verse. We took the Gucci verse from a Wale song. Kendrick Lamar we actually went in and did a song together and also Miguel.
KHH: Last friday I heard you were signed to Def Jam Records, is that correct?
JA: I signed with No I.D.’s label through Def Jam. After the mixtape came out, I was meeting up with a lot of different labels and people like producers. I wanted to make it clear with everybody that I met, that I wasn’t going to change for anybody or anything. Of course I wanted to continue to grow and I feel like I change and grow everyday, but as far as who I am, my morals and my integrity as a person, nothing can really change that. My creative control is really important to me, and a lot of the labels I had met with didn’t understand that. Then I got a call from No I.D, I didn’t know what the meeting was about I thought it was going to be about me being on his beat. My manager and I reached out to him and he told us the whole situation. I had a really good feeling and vibe from him.
KHH: Since Sailing Soul(s) dropped in the spring and the year is almost over, is there another mixtape coming soon?
JA: Yea I’m working on another project for the beginning of next year, but i’m not sure if it’s going to be an album or mixtape.
KHH: Do you have a title for it or are you still undecided?
JA: Souled Out is going to be the title of the album or mixtape.
KHH: Everything seems to be going great for you. What can you honestly say is the hardest part of being a female R&B artist from California?
JA: The hardest part is just dealing with people judging you and expecting you to be one way and you’re the total opposite. I’m from L.A and people have a certain way they look at girls from here but with me it’s not the same. The way I grew up was different and I have my good and bad times.
KHH: What is the biggest goal right now for Jhené Aiko?
JA: My biggest goal in life is to find a balance between everything that I’m doing like being a mom and being a singer. They almost contradict each other because I can’t stay all day with my daughter and then when I’m singing it’s like shes my drive, so I need to find a balance between her and working in the studio. Being able to find balance in both is my biggest goal and trying to give my attention to both without hurting the other.
KHH: Speaking of your daughter have you noticed any talents lately that you could say she’s following your foot steps?
JA: Oh yea she has a lot of rhythm ever since she was a little baby, she makes up her own songs. I wouldn’t say I would like her to be a singer or anything like that but she obviously will. I’m 100% sure shes going to want to do the same.
KHH: Thats really dope.
KHH: For all Jhené fans, what’s next? Any upcoming shows?
JA: Yea I’m definitely going to update everybody like on twitter and my website. Shows are going to be happening and more visuals. I’m just going with the flow.
For more Jhené Aiko: