For as long as Jhene Aiko has been in the music industry, the singer-songwriter has been unapologetically honest in her self expression. Aiko has never been okay with being told what to do, and when it comes to music she doesn’t care what her record label or boyfriends have to say. All she cares about is expressing what’s on her mind.
Jhene started making music back in the early 2000s as a featured member of the R&B group B2K, but it took the 29-year-old until 2017 after four solo projects to finally find complete creative and inner freedom.
“Where I found true confidence and freedom and just [said] I’m gonna do me… this year really,” Aiko told Genius in January of 2017. “I’m just aware of opinions. If i’m pleased with it then that’s all that matters.”
Throughout her career, Aiko has created a broad discography of music from features on hits like Drake’s Wu-Tang Forever to her own sadder and more reflective tracks like Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle). In fact, if you look at Aiko’s two 2017 singles, the sexually explicit Maniac and the more cinematic While We’re Young, you can see two very different sides of the artist through different artistic expressions. Aiko says she has many sides but the ones that come out the most in her music happen to be sadness, frustration, and sex. When she feels down, music is a form of therapy for Aiko.
“When i’m going through something to turn it into art is the best therapy,” Aiko told Power 106 Los Angeles. “It’s actually easier for me to talk about the things that are harder to deal with just because I want to release it and i want to transform it into something that can be looked at as positive… its harder for me to write about when I’m happy.”
Despite critiques about her music being too sexually explicit or overwhelmingly sad, Aiko is all about being true to herself regardless of whether or not it’s the norm in the industry. In fact, Aiko developed that mentality from one of her biggest influences, Tupac Shakur.
“He’s an icon for speaking your mind and being you even if it’s controversial,” Aiko told Rap-up.com. “He’s been a big inspiration for me just to stick to who I am and to actually stand for something through music.”
If you know anything about Jhene Aiko’s catalog, you know that she doesn’t only make music, she makes art. Whether it be in the form of a music video, short film, or live show, Aiko is a creative with a big picture in mind. And any big picture requires time.
“I like to really take my time and create the pieces and then put the pieces together to have this big picture,” Aiko says, admitting that it took lots of time before she was ready to share the Maniac video. “I would say in 2017 you will see the big picture.”
“One project for me is going to take all my effort and energy, and that’s how I like it.”
Author Bio: Oren Weisfeld