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Souled Out
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 9, 2014
Studio
  • 4220, Hollywood, CA
  • Fisticuffs Gym, Culver City, CA
GenreAlternative R&B[1]
Length49:17
Label
  • ArtClub
Producer
  • Ketrina 'Taz' Askew (exec.)
  • No I.D. (also exec.)
  • Jhené Chilombo (co-exec.)
  • Fisticuffs
  • Woodro Skillson
Jhené Aiko chronology
Sail Out
(2013)
Souled Out
(2014)
Twenty88
(2016)
Singles from Souled Out
  1. 'To Love & Die'
    Released: June 24, 2014
  2. 'The Pressure'
    Released: July 18, 2014
  3. 'Wading'
    Released: December 12, 2014
  4. 'Spotless Mind'
    Released: January 21, 2015

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Souled Out is the debut studio album by American singer Jhené Aiko. It was released on September 9, 2014, by ArtClub International, ARTium Recordings and Def Jam Recordings. After leaving Epic Records in 2003, Aiko took a hiatus from her music career and returned in 2011, with the release of her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s). After raising her profile with the mixtape, Aiko met with record producer No I.D., and subsequently secured a recording contract with his newly found record label imprint, ARTium. Following her record deal, Aiko immediately began working on the album; during the recording process, Aiko released her debut EP Sail Out (2013), to bridge the gap between her mixtape and the album.

Souled Out is an alternative R&B album with a diverse musical style that incorporates psychedelic music, R&B, neo soul, hip hop and elements of electronica. Its songs are loosely structured and feature electronic guitar sounds, synths, drums and atmospheric noises. A concept album, Souled Out features the evolution of a woman's heartbreak before becoming enlightened, the album features lyrics that revolve around relationships, life lessons, philosophies and truths. Aiko served as the album's executive producer and wrote the album's lyrics; she contracted four key producers to contribute with production and help create a cohesive sound.

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An anticipated release, Souled Out was released to commercial and critical success. The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 70,000 copies, doubling the first week sales of her debut EP; the album also debuted at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the US R&B Albums charts. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who commended its production, lyrics and themes and was ranked as one of the best albums of 2014 by several publications. The album spawned four singles—'To Love & Die', 'The Pressure', 'Wading' and 'Spotless Mind'—and has sold 121,000 units in the US.

  • 6Release and promotion
  • 7Critical reception
  • 11Charts

Background[edit]

In 2003, Aiko released a video for her debut single 'NO L.O.V.E', when she was 15 years old. Aiko was set to release her debut album, then-titled My Name Is Jhené, however the album was never released due to tension at the record label Epic, which ultimately led to Aiko asking to be released from the label. She then began to focus on school and continue her education.[2] Following the birth of her daughter, Aiko began to make her return to music in 2008 and began meeting with labels. In 2011, she released her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s), which was received well by critics and was certified Gold by mixtape-sharing website DatPiff, for downloads of 100,000.[3] In 2012, Aiko met with No I.D., record producer and vice president of A&R at Def Jam, who ended up signing Aiko to his ARTium Recordings imprint through Def Jam, Aiko revealed that she has signed to Def Jam via her official Twitter account.[4][5] Following Aiko's signing to the label she released her debut extended play Sail Out (2013). The EP was met with positive reviews from critics and debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 34,000 copies in the United States.[6][7]

Writing and recording[edit]

Aiko stated that she was working on the album every day either recording or writing, but is taking her time as she doesn't want 'to put out some nonsense'.[8] During the album's recording Aiko set up workshops in which she and the producers would talk about the songs in order to create a cohesive sound and the belief that the music is 'from one artist and this culmination of minds that share the same vision'.[9] In April 2014, Aiko began recording her interviews in order to put something together to show her fan base the process of the album and 'the work that went into it, and little random things'.[9] During the recording process of the album Aiko would write under the influence of cannabis in order to use the feeling as inspiration, and then record the song when she was sober, unlike her debut mixtape which she wrote and recorded under the influence.[10]

I'll have a beat or sit with producers and we'll feed off of each other and I'll just keep singing a melody until I have words. There's not a lot of writing down—I'll only write it down to make sure it makes sense after I come up with it. For the most part, I like to not have second thoughts.

– Aiko, speaking on the album's recording process[9]

During the recording of the album Aiko opted to freestyle when writing the album, she would have a beat or would sit with producers and she would sing a melody until she had words, she described the process as not having a lot wrote down and any writing that was done, was done to make sure the songs made sense.[9] On average Aiko was writing and recording four songs a month and in February she stated she was going to write and record at least ten more songs; she also said she had enough material for an album but would continue to record.[11] Aiko did a large proportion of studio sessions with her daughter in which Aiko would record and sing directly at her daughter, as well as writing verses about her late brother.[11]

Aiko described 'Spotless Mind' as being the easiest song to write; the song was written while Aiko was touring with Lauryn Hill and Nas in 45 minutes using GarageBand.[9] Aiko also revealed that 'Eternal Sunshine' and 'Spotless Mind' titles were inspired by the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.[9]Download game psp monster hunter 4. During the recording of the album Aiko released her debut extended play using some of the material she has intended for her debut. In June 2014, Aiko revealed that only Cocaine 80s and her daughter Namiko would feature on the album.[12] During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Aiko revealed the recording process for 'Promise' and having her daughter as a guest feature: 'I practice my songs in the car, and she's usually in the back seat, so she knows them', continuing to say, 'I brought her in the studio and said, 'Remember that song we've been singing?' and recorded the song from there'.[13]

Aiko began working with Dot da Genius after meeting in 2012; upon their meeting Aiko initially had no intention to record, however, she had a song that fit 'perfectly' with one of his tracks. Aiko also worked with producer Key Wane.[14] In October 2012, after performing at SOB's in New York City, Aiko revealed that she was recording the project with No I.D. and other members of Cocaine 80's.[15] During the album's production Aiko wanted to work with a variety of artists including Kid Cudi, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul.[16][17]

Aiko revealed that she had been sent many songs for her debut, saying, 'I've been getting so many tracks lately and I'm not used to that. Download torrent the good place s01e011 pirate bay. I’m used to just having a handful to work with but now that the label (Def Jam) is involved, they're sending me so much great stuff and I've just been writing and writing and writing!'[17] In 2014, Aiko revealed she worked with No I.D., Key Wane, Fisticuffs and Dot da Genius and stated she would only be working with them so the sound was cohesive; she also revealed that her and the producers were working together in order to 'make sure each song goes well with the other'.[9] During the album's production Aiko embarked on creating a more 'intricate' sound with the use of live instruments.[18] In November 2013, during an interview with Vice, Aiko stated that the album's production was done and all that was needed was finished touches and mixing; she also revealed that she would still continue to record new material.[19]

Music[edit]

Souled Out, a conceptual chronicling of the singer's journey from darkness to light, rooted in tales of tragedy and spiritual awakening. Aiko's newfound style lies somewhere between the soothing sounds of Sade and what can be nebulously described as 'future R&B,' a broad spectrum of pioneering music-makers making tunes best served in the midnight hour, including The Weeknd, Tinashe and FKA Twigs.

– Bradley Stern, Time[20]

An alternative R&B album, Souled Out explores a variety of genres including psychedelic music, classic R&B and hip hop.[21] Described by Erin Lowers from XXL, Souled Out is an alternative R&B album, described as being created with the use of heavily used synthesizers and 'wooly drum loops'. Lowers said the album's genre is caught in a 'revolutionized limbo'.[22] The album's songs blend the neo soul, hip hop and electronica genres into downbeat, loosely structured soundscapes according to Julia Leconte of Now.[1] Siyabonga Dube of News24 described Souled Out as being a combination of 'diverse' sounds and genres, noting the incorporation of hip hop, R&B, alternative, and elements of electronic, describing the album's genre as being a 'new age of music'.[23] Bradley Stern of Time compared the album's musical style to the work of Sade, calling the album's genre 'future R&B'; Stern also compared Souled Out to the work of The Weeknd, Tinashe and FKA Twigs.[20]

The album's production has been characterized as being expansive, endearing, and enigmatic.[21] Troy L. Smith of The Plain Dealer called the album's production one of the 'strongest points', noting the album's electronic guitar sounds, synths, drums and atmospheric noises.[24] Lowers described the album's production as being 'silky psychedelic', channeling spaced out melodies and hypnotic synths.[22] Stern noted the album's production as having stretches of instrumentation that contain slow-burning and 'honey-soaked' melodies, flowing from start to finish, comparative to a 'modern meditative chant'.[20] According to Rick Florino of Artistdirect, Aiko sings with a soulful delivery and raw emotionality throughout the album.[21] Aiko's vocals were described as fusing 'perfectly' with the album's production, in which they float over the album's beats creating a 'luminous aura'.[23] Other critics compared Aiko's vocals to that of Aaliyah's noting a similar falsetto and Aiko's ability to 'convey a sultry innocence' with her voice.[25] Dana Moran of RedEye described Aiko's voice as 'velvety', continuing to call her vocals 'husky and sleek, guarded and seductive'.[26] Andy Kellman of AllMusic described Aiko's vocals as being seductive, noting Aiko's wistful tones on songs like 'Eternal Sunshine' and 'Spotless Mind', as well as her injections of sharp and contrasting 'melodrama' on 'To Love & Die' with only minor variations in her tone.[27]

Lyrics[edit]

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Souled Out is a concept album[28] that goes through an evolution, something Aiko described as a 'path'. The album tells the story of a woman going through heartbreak, confusion, and being in a dark place before becoming enlightened and growing.[9] Aiko stated the album's lyrical content revolves around relationships, life lessons, philosophies and truths.[9] The album also touches upon vulnerable insights of Aiko's personal life such as her fears as a single parent and the death of her brother Miyagi.[20] In an in-depth review of the album's lyrics Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe wrote;

The set is smartly conceived with a finely calibrated continuity as her songs reflect a young woman in search of life's foundations; through 14 tracks she traces the vicissitudes of love, journeying from promise through hurt into hope. Aiko's producers, including No I.D. and Dot da Genius, create expansive, inventive tracks that mirror the allure of her lithe vocals and intimate phrasing. Aiko demonstrates remarkable honesty and confidence. The songs are often grounded in frank sexuality, and filled with healthy contradictions as she navigates her way to the wonder.[29]

Brad Wete of Billboard called the album's lyrical style sharp and noted its wordplay; Wete also described the album as 'insular' with lyrics containing 'cuts' that 'run deep, searing with spite and indifference', continuing to note the album's themes as revolving around love interests, inward thinking and 'chronicling her wearisome romantic history'.[30] Erin Lowers from XXL noted relationships, dreams, and aspirations as the three main concepts layered throughout the album.[22] Bradley Stern from Time, called the album's lyrical content 'occasionally snappy', which he described as keeping the otherwise 'gentle pulsations' of the album feeling 'fresh' and 'employing expressions'.[20]

Songs[edit]

The album opens with 'Limbo Limbo Limbo', built over 'twinkling keys and tumbling drums'; the song's lyrics revolve around a man who 'has got too big for his britches.'[30] 'W.A.Y.S.' is an acronym for Aiko's later brothers Miyagi's favorite saying, 'Why Aren't You Smiling?'.[31] 'W.A.Y.S.' is built over crashing sounds over a hip hop production and contains underlying string instruments and echoed drumbeats, with lyrics that speak about Aiko having a 'bright future' and for her to shake 'off negative thoughts.'[24][30][32] 'To Love & Die' is a contemporary R&B song with an 'atmospheric' and 'sparse' production and R&B 'textures.'[33][34] Built over a 'dark and melodic' production that contains 'tripping drum loops and hypnotic, spacey synthesisers,'[34] the song also interpolates American rapper 50 Cent's 2003 cult classic song 'Many Men (Wish Death)'.[35] Lyrically the song revolves around love and affection.[34] 'Spotless Mind' is a 'smooth' track built over a 'chill beat' and contains an 'island vibe'.[36] The song is predominately an R&B track that is backed by a 'funky bass, gentle rhythm and acoustic guitars' inspired by soft rock.[37] Lyrically Aiko wanders into a reverie, in which she discusses different love and mental rest stops that she's visited.[38]

'It's Cool' is a breezy R&B track that contains bluesy riff and instrumentals and lyrically describes Aiko developing love for a man who was initially just a physical interest.[28][32][39] 'Lyin King' contains a fluid production, built over synths, the track is a bass-heavy song with lyrics directed to an ex-lover.[20][22] 'Lying King' uses the metaphor of a lion to emphasise Aiko's 'pain she feels, saying he steals hearts and feeds them to his pride.'[32] 'Wading' is a mid tempo song,[28] with a 'dreamy' production, lyrically Aiko speaks on the idea of a man watching the girl he wants drift away because he's afraid to step up and be great.[30] During the song Aiko samples a Tupac verse and turns it into a metaphor for 'losing her love', during the end of the song 'Wading' becomes ambient and Aiko's voice echoes and fades out.[40] 'The Pressure' is an alternative R&B song built over a hip-hop production, containing guitars and synths, and backed by 'metallic slaps and a shaky beat.'[41][42] Lyrically the song was inspired by the Aiko's stress of finishing her debut album.[42]

The standard album's closing track 'Pretty Bird' features a verse from American rapper Common.

'Brave' is a hip hop song backed by a surf guitar.[20] The song is built around inflections of a horn, which was compared to the work of Sade. The song's lyrics are 'dark', in which Aiko describes the danger of loving who she is.[40] 'Eternal Sunshine' is backed by a 'hypnotic piano riff'.[20] 'Promises' is produced by mentor No I.D. and features Aiko's daughter Namiko performing part of the hook. Lyrically, it is a message to Aiko's daughter and late brother.[43] 'Promises' contains an electric guitar infused backdrop provided by Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp; the song also features vocals from her late brother.[22] The album closes with 'Pretty Bird' which features American rapper Common, making it the second time the pair have worked together after Aiko previously featured on 'Black Majik' from his 2014 album Nobody's Smiling.[44] Described as a pop rap song, Erin Lowers of XXL called the song 'dynamic' and compared it to Nina Simone's 'Blackbird'; lyrically 'Pretty Bird' sees Aiko singing about the troubles she's faced to get here.[22]

The standard deluxe edition contains two bonus tracks, 'Remember' and 'Blue Dream'. 'Blue Dream' was initially released in March 2014, as 'My Afternoon Dream' with production by Key Wane.[45][46] The song's lyrical content was described as revolving around Aiko losing herself in blissful thoughts of a man.[45] However, Aiko revealed that the song's lyrics were written about 'Blue Dream', a strain of Cannabis sativa. The song was later renamed and featured new production courtesy of No I.D. The album's Target exclusive edition also contains two extra songs; the first being 'Beautiful Ruin' which features live guitar from Steve Wyreman, with production built around the guitar by No I.D.[47] The second song is an acoustic version of 'You vs. Them', a song originally recorded by Aiko for her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s). The song features just Aiko's vocals and a guitar.[47]

Release and promotion[edit]

In May 2012, Aiko revealed that her debut would be released that summer, but the album never emerged.[48] On November 12, 2013, Aiko released her debut extended play Sail Out as a bridge between her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s) and her debut studio album.[49] In a January 2014, interview with Vibe, Aiko announced her debut studio album Souled Out would be released in May 2014.[50] However, the album was again delayed. Aiko titled the album as a follow up to her mixtape Sailing Soul(s) (2011) and extended play Sail Out (2013), the former was titled Sailing Soul(s) due to having dealt with record labels who intended to change Aiko's image she described the title as 'sailing one's soul, or rising above the negativity, instead of selling it.' The album follows on the theme with Aiko stating that 'Souled Out' is what happens once you 'sail your soul,' continuing to say, 'You're Souled Out and completely free. And your Soul is on an infinite free ride.'[51] Aiko announced that the album will feature twelve to thirteen tracks as well as bonus songs.[43] Aiko revealed during an interview with Vibe that the track listing would be ordered in a journey, with the later tracks featuring themes of the meaning of life.[52]

On March 16, 2014, Aiko premiered a song entitled 'My Afternoon Dream' along with an accompanying music video directed by Aiko and Krissy.[53] During Aiko's performance in April at the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, she premiered a live rendition of 'Spotless Mind' including her band and a string quartet.[12][54] Aiko performed 'The Worst' with John Legend at the BET 14th annual ceremony at the Nokia Theatre L.A.[55][56] On June 26, Aiko and frequent collaborator Schoolboy Q were announced as a supporting act for Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd's King of the Fall Tour, consisting of four shows.[57][58] On July 8, it was speculated that Souled Out would be released on August 25, 2014.[59] Aiko stated in an interview with Complex that she would not 'rush' the album and also revealed that the album was set for an August 2014 release.[60] On August 13, Aiko released the album's cover art and track listing and announced the album's release date as September 9, 2014, coinciding with The Weeknd's King of the Fall Tour.[61][62][63][64]

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The album's artwork was released on August 5, 2014, and features Aiko in between water and the sky as her soul rises upwards. Melissa Tropnas of Global Grind described the cover as 'ethereal' and a reviewer form Rap-Up described it as 'celestial.'[65][66] Bradley Stern of Idolator called the cover art an 'accurate representation' of Aiko's music.[67] On August 18, Aiko released the song 'Spotless Mind' onto iTunes as a pre-order leading up to the album's release.[68] On September 2, the album was made available for streaming through iTunes.[69] On October 23, Aiko announced that she would be headlining the Enter the Void tour with support by SZA and The Internet.[70] The month-long tour started December 2, in Washington, D.C., with stops in New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Chicago, and two dates at L.A.'s Club Nokia. The 13 dates ended on December 21 in Minneapolis.[71] On February 13, 2015, Aiko was announced as a special guest on the European leg of rapper J. Cole's Forest Hills Drive Tour.[72]

Singles[edit]

Four singles were released from the album. 'To Love & Die' was released on June 24, 2014, as the lead single from the album.[35] The album's second single, 'The Pressure', was released on iTunes on July 18, 2014.[73] 'Wading' was released as the album's third single on December 12, 2014, along with an accompanying video.[74] 'Spotless Mind' was released on January 21, 2015, as the album's fourth single.[75]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic76/100[76]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[27]
Billboard84/100[30]
Clash8/10[77]
Entertainment WeeklyA–[78]
Exclaim!8/10[28]
The Guardian[79]
HipHopDX3.5/5[25]
Now[1]
Pitchfork6.5/10[80]

Souled Out received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 76, based on 10 reviews.[76] Kyle Anderson, writer for Entertainment Weekly, found the album to be more pop friendly that her debut extended play Sail Out, continuing to call the album a 'parallel dimension where the future of R&B arrived a long time ago.'[78]Pitchfork's Craig Jenkins concluded 'Souled Out capably buffs Jhené Aiko's strengths and shellacks her faults, but the moments where she steps out into the depth of her story transcend the synergy of a group of musicians with good chemistry.'[80] Marcus K. Dowling of HipHopDX felt Aiko's writing was 'intentionally simple and evocative,' continuing to say 'you're as much sucked into wondering just what she's going to say next as much as you just want to hear a high-quality song.'[25] Tshepo Mokoena of The Guardian said, 'She may purr like a revamped Ashanti, but she sounds tough as nails when it matters.'[79] Ken Capobianco from The Boston Globe concluded that 'Aiko's producers, including No I.D. and Dot da Genius, create expansive, inventive tracks that mirror the allure of her lithe vocals and intimate phrasing.'[29]

Brad Wete of Billboard called the album as 'party of one,' continuing to state the album is 'music to overthink with and lines to quote when angry at a significant other—the soundtrack for hard times.'[30] Ryan B. Patrick from Exclaim! stated that 'Souled Out is an intriguing record from an intriguing artist who has tapped into the zeitgeist and delivered something that is both reflective and forward-looking.'[28] Erin Lowers from XXL called Aiko and the album a 'breath of fresh air in a musical sea that's often changing tides and taking artists with it.'[22] Rick Florino of Artistdirect named Aiko as one of musics most 'important voices,' continuing to note Souled Out as being one of 2014's best albums.[21] In a more mixed review Julia Leconte of Now said 'It's nice to see Aiko atypically solo (Common provides the only rap feature), but more variety would be welcome.'[1] Although he praised the album's introspective themes, Andy Kellman of AllMusic felt that Aiko could be 'maddeningly platitudinal and singsongy,' however Kellman believed that Aiko's 'one dimension is a specific balmy backdrop provided by no one else.'[27]

Accolades[edit]

Prior to the album's releases, Souled Out was placed at number 18 on Complex magazine's 'Most Anticipated Albums of 2014.'[81] The album also made MTV's list of 'Most Anticipated R&B albums of 2014.'[82]HipHopDX placed the album at number one on their 'Non-Hip Hop Album of the Year' list.[83] The album was placed at number 19 on The Guardian's list of the best albums of 2014.[84]Vibe also included the album on their end of year list, ranking it as number seven.[85]The Huffington Post listed Souled Out as one of the most over looked albums of 2014, stating the album 'serves to hint at her future potential.'[86] Gail Mitchell of Billboard noted Aiko and her debut has one of the albums to breakthrough and 'make some noise' in the R&B genre.[87]

Commercial performance[edit]

Souled Out debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 70,000 copies in its opening week, becoming that week's second highest debut. Souled Out doubled the first week sales of Aiko's debut extended play Sail Out.[88][89] The album also debuted at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the US R&B Albums charts.[88] The following week, the album fell to number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart selling a further 20,000 copies, bringing its total to 90,000 copies.[90] As of October 29, 2015, Souled Out had sold 125,000 copies in the United States.[91]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1.'Limbo Limbo Limbo'
  • Brinton 'Woodro Skillson' Ewart
4:19
2.'W.A.Y.S.'
  • Chilombo
  • Brian 'Fisticuffs' Warfield
  • Mac 'Fisticuffs' Robinson
3:58
3.'To Love & Die' (featuring Cocaine 80s)
  • Chilombo
  • Darrell 'Digga' Branch
  • Robinson
  • Warfield
  • Frederick Perren
  • Keni St. Lewis
Fisticuffs3:23
4.'Spotless Mind'No I.D.4:28
5.'It's Cool'
  • Chilombo
  • Wilson
No I.D.3:55
6.'Lyin King'Fisticuffs3:33
7.'Wading'
  • Chilombo
  • Omishore
Dot da Genius4:35
8.'The Pressure'Fisticuffs3:57
9.'Brave'
  • Chilombo
  • Wilson
No I.D.3:52
10.'Eternal Sunshine'Key Wane3:30
11.'Promises' (featuring Miyagi and Namiko)
  • Chilombo
  • Wilson
  • Svein Berge
  • Torbjørn Brundtland
No I.D.4:58
12.'Pretty Bird (Freestyle)' (featuring Common)No I.D.4:49
Deluxe edition bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
13.'Remember'
  • Chilombo
  • Warfield
  • Robinson
Fisticuffs3:18
14.'Blue Dream'No I.D.3:36

Blue Dream Jhene Aiko Lyrics

Souled Out– Target exclusive and UK edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
15.'You vs. Them [Acoustic]'Chilombo3:22
16.'Beautiful Ruin'
  • Chilombo
  • Steve Wyreman
No I.D.3:45

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[b] signifies an co-producer

Sample credits

  • 'To Love & Die' contains an interpolation of 'Many Men (Wish Death)', written by Curtis Jackson, Darrell 'Digga' Branch and Luis Resto, performed by 50 Cent.
  • 'You vs. Them' is an acoustic version of a song original performed by Aiko from her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s).
  • 'Blue Dream' contains the same lyrics from 'My Afternoon Dream' and contains a different beat.

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from AllMusic.[92]

  • Jhené Aiko – primary artist, art direction, art producer, design, executive producer
  • Ron Avant – keyboards
  • Jim Caruana – engineer
  • Maddox Chimm – mixing assistant
  • Clams Casino – producer
  • Cocaine 80s – featured artist
  • Common – featured artist
  • Claire Courchene – cello
  • Casey Cuayo – assistant engineer, mixing assistant
  • Brinton 'Woodro Skillson' Ewart – additional production
  • James Fauntleroy – vocals (background)
  • Fisticuffs – engineer, producer
  • Dot da Genius – producer
  • Maximillian Jaeger – assistant engineer
  • Jaycen Joshua – mixing
  • Ryan Kaul – assistant engineer, mixing assistant
  • Gimel 'Young Guru' Keaton – mixing
  • Ketrina 'Taz' Askew – executive producer
  • Rob Kinelski – engineer, mixing
  • Dave Kutch – mastering
  • Paul Lane – package production
  • Chris Le – art direction, art producer, design, package production
  • Sam Lewis – assistant engineer, mixing assistant
  • Tai Linzie – package production
  • Nate Mercereau – French horn
  • Miyagi – featured artist
  • Namiko – featured artist
  • Ross Netko – assistant engineer
  • No I.D. – executive producer, producer
  • Tom Peyton – percussion
  • Christian Plata – engineer
  • James Poyser – keyboards, piano
  • Kevin Randolph – piano
  • Gregg Rominiecki – engineer, vocals (background)
  • Donnie Scantz – engineer
  • Ben Schwier – organ, piano
  • Josh Story – engineer
  • Derek Taylor – percussion, timpani
  • Thomas Lea – viola, violin
  • Michael Law Thomas – engineer
  • Thundercat – bass, producer
  • Crystal Torres – trumpet
  • Anna Ugarte – assistant engineer, mixing assistant
  • Juan F. 'Jef' Villaluna – guitar
  • Key Wane – producer
  • Brian Warfield – engineer
  • Steve Wyreman – bass, bells, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
  • Courtney 'Millimoto' Yamamoto – photography

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2014)Peak
position
Australian Urban Albums (ARIA)[93]22
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[94]20
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[95]100
UK Albums (OCC)[96]23
UK R&B Albums (OCC)[97]2
US Billboard 200[98]3
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[99]1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2014)Peak
position
US Billboard 200[100]148
US R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)[101]32

Release history[edit]

RegionDateFormatEditionLabelRef
United KingdomSeptember 8, 2014
  • Standard
  • Deluxe
[102][103]
Australia[104][105]
United StatesSeptember 9, 2014
  • Standard
  • Deluxe
  • Target edition
[106][107]
South AfricaSeptember 12, 2014[108][109]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

  • Jhene Aiko Chilombo on IMDb
Retrieved from 'https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Souled_Out_(Jhené_Aiko_album)&oldid=881855880'
Aiko in 2016
Background information
Birth nameJhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo
BornMarch 16, 1988 (age 31)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
InstrumentsVocals
Years active2002–present
Labels
Associated acts
WebsiteOfficial Website

Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo, (born March 16, 1988; pronounced 'Juh-nay Ahh-ee-ko') is an American singer and songwriter, who embarked on her music career contributing vocals and appearing in several music videos for R&B group B2K. At the time, she was known as B2K member Lil' Fizz's 'cousin', though she is not actually related to him.[1][2] It was used as a marketing tool, suggested by Sony and Epic Records, to promote Aiko through B2K and attract an audience.[3][4] In 2003, Aiko was set to release her debut album, My Name Is Jhené, through her labels Sony, The Ultimate Group and Epic, however the album was never released, with Aiko eventually asking to be released from the label in order to continue her education.[citation needed]

In March 2011, Aiko made her return to music with the release of her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Sailing Soul(s). On December 16, 2011, Aiko signed a recording contract with American record producer No I.D.'s record label ARTium, distributed through Def Jam Recordings.[5] In 2013, Aiko appeared on Big Sean's single 'Beware', also featuring Lil Wayne, which became her first top 40 single on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In November 2013, she released her first project for Artium and Def Jam, an extended play (EP), titled Sail Out. The EP was supported by the singles '3:16AM', 'Bed Peace' and 'The Worst', the latter of which went on to become certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Aiko released her major-label debut album, Souled Out, on September 9, 2014.[citation needed] On September 22, 2017, she released her second studio album Trip.[6]

  • 2Musical career
  • 4Artistry

Early life[edit]

Aiko was born and grew up in Ladera Heights, California. She was homeschooled.[7] Aiko is the daughter of Christina Yamamoto and Karamo Chilombo, a pediatrician. Her parents later divorced.[8] Her sister is R&B singer Mila J.[9][10] Her mother is of Spanish, Dominican and Japanese descent and her father is of Native American, African American, German and Jewish descent.[11]

She took vocal lessons in Culver City, California but quit when she unexpectedly got pregnant.[12] At age 20 she gave birth to a baby girl she named Namiko Love Browner.[13]

Musical career[edit]

2002–11: Career beginnings[edit]

Aiko embarked on her musical career contributing vocals to several B2K releases, as well a song on The Master of Disguise soundtrack in 2002, while signed to The Ultimate Group and managed by Chris Stokes.[14][15] During this time she was known as the cousin of B2K's rapper, Lil' Fizz, though she is not actually related to him.[1][2] It was used as a marketing tool, suggested by her labels Sony, The Ultimate Group and Epic Records, to promote Aiko through B2K and attract an audience; nonetheless Aiko affirms that she and Lil' Fizz grew up together and were close like family.[3] She featured on tracks five through eight of the R&B group's remix album B2K: The Remixes – Volume 1.[16] 'Santa Baby', a cover she recorded, was also featured on their album Santa Hooked Me Up and she appeared as a guest vocalist on the song 'Tease' from Pandemonium!.[17][18] Her song 'Dog'[18] appeared as a bonus track.[citation needed]

Aiko also appeared in numerous music videos including O'Ryan's debut video, 'Take It Slow',[19] B2K's debut video 'Uh Huh'[20] and 'Why I Love You',[21]P.Y.T.'s 'Same Ol' Same Ol' (Remix)'[22] featuring Sarai, Play's 'M.A.S.T.E.R. (Part 2)'[23] featuring Lil' Fizz video and Morgan Smith's 2004 video 'Blow Ya Whistle'.[24] Jhené also has songs featured on the soundtracks of Barbershop,[25]The Master of Disguise,[26]You Got Served,[27]The Proud Family[28] and Byou.[29] She released a video for her single 'NO L.O.V.E' (re-recorded from Tha' Rayne version in 2002), which debuted on BET's 106 & Park when she was 15 years old. Aiko was set to release her debut album, then-titled My Name Is Jhené in 2003 through Sony, The Ultimate Group, Epic, however the album was never released due to tension at the record label Epic, which ultimately led to Aiko asking to be released from the label.[30] Aiko later left the aforementioned labels in order to continue her education.[4]

In 2007, she made a return to music, in an interview she spoke on the choice saying 'Shortly before I conceived my daughter, I stepped back into the field and took a meeting with a label head. In this meeting, I was innocently told, to 'sell' myself when walking into these meetings. 'That's when I decided I would 'sail' myself rather than sell myself.'[31]Aiko released a mixtape on March 16, 2011 entitled Sailing Soul(s) via her official website, JheneAiko.com. All the songs on the mixtape were written by her, except 'July'.[32] The mixtape featured collaborations from Miguel, Drake and Kanye West as well as others.[33] To promote the mixtape Aiko was joined by R&B singer Miguel on a one off free secret tour on Sunday, July 15.[34] On October 21, 2012 Aiko released a music video for the song 'My Mine'.[35] Jhene also released a video for the mixtape's second track, 'Stranger'.[36] In 2011, she also began working closely with artists from Carson-based independent record labelTop Dawg Entertainment such as Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul who was featured on her EP released November 12, 2013 titled 'Sail Out'.[citation needed]

2012–14: Debut album[edit]

Aiko performing at The Manifesto Year 7 Live at The Square on September 22, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

In 2012, Aiko met with No I.D., record producer and vice president of A&R at Def Jam, who ended up signing Aiko to his Artium Records imprint through Def Jam.[37] Aiko released the track '3:16AM', which was made available for digital download on iTunes September 4, 2012.[38] The song was released as the first single from Sail Out. In 2012, Aiko was also the opening act on the highly anticipated 'Life Is Good/Black Rage' concert tour headlined by fellow American artists, rapper Nas and singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill.[39] In June 2013, Aiko was featured on the Big Sean song 'Beware', which became her first song to chart on the US BillboardHot 100. In October 2013, it was revealed Jhené Aiko would open for Canadian rapper Drake on his Would You like a Tour? concert tour.[40][41][42]

Aiko then released her debut EP Sail Out, on November 12, 2013. The EP debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 34,000 copies.[43] On January 14, 2014, 'The Worst' was serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States as the album's third single.[44] On May 2, 2014 'The Worst' rose from three to one on the airplay Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop, in doing so she became the first female artist to top the chart as a lead with a debut single since Jazmine Sullivan in 2008.[45] The song peaked on the US Billboard Hot 100 at forty-three, becoming Aiko's first solo release to chart in the region, the song also peaked at number eleven on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[46][47]

On January 18, 2014, Aiko appeared on Saturday Night Live performing the song 'From Time', with the episode's guest host, Drake.[48] In a January 2014 interview with Vibe, Aiko announced her debut studio album Souled Out would be released in May 2014.[49] However the album would be delayed. On March 16, 2014, Aiko premiered a song titled 'My Afternoon Dream,' produced by Key Wane,[50] along with an accompanying music video directed by Aiko and Krissy.[51] On June 23, 2014, 'To Love & Die', was released for digital download as the album's lead single.[52] Following its release 'To Love & Die' debuted and peaked at number forty-six on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts.[53] On June 26, 2014, Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd, announced he would be headlining the 'King of the Fall Tour', essentially a mini-tour across America in September / October 2014, the tour will consist of four shows and start on 19 September 2014 in New York, at the Barclays Center and end on October 10 in San Francisco, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.[54] Aiko and frequent collaborator ScHoolboy Q, were confirmed as the tour's supporting acts, respectively.[55]

After three years of recording Aiko released her debut album Souled Out on September 8, 2014.[56][57] An anticipated release, the album was released to commercial and critical success.[58] The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 70,000 copies in its opening week, in doing so the album became that weeks second highest debut and doubled the first week sales of Aiko's debut extended play Sail Out (2013).[59][60] The album also debuted at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and US R&B Albums[59] and has sold 121,012 units in the US.[61] The album produced a further three singles: the album's second single, 'The Pressure', was released on iTunes on July 18, 2014.[62] The Pressure debuted at number twenty five on the US Hot R&B Songs chart, and peaked the following week, at number twenty three.[63] 'Wading' was released as the album's third single on December 12, 2014 along with an accompanying video, followed by the release of Spotless Mind[64] Her debut album was included on numerous critics' year end lists[65][66] and was described by Gail Mitchell of Billboard as one of the albums to breakthrough and 'make some noise' in the R&B genre.[67] Following the release of the song 'Post to Be', a collaboration with Omarion, the line 'I might let your boy chauffeur me, but he gotta eat the booty like groceries' was described as a standout lyric and 'the lyric of the summer, or the lyric of the year,' by Rob Markman, editor for MTV News.[68]

2015–present: Twenty88 and Trip[edit]

In February, 2015, Aiko was nominated for three Grammy Awards at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, including Best R&B Song for 'The Worst' and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Sail Out.[69] The same month it was announced that Aiko would join rapper J. Cole on his tour entitled, Forest Hills Drive Tour.[70] On March 19, 2015 Aiko released the free song “Living Room Flow.”[71]Aiko covered 'In a World of My Own / Very Good Advice' from the Disney film Alice in Wonderland, the cover was included on the 'We Love Disney' compilation album which was released in October 2015.[72]


In March 2016, Aiko announced a collaboration album with rapper Big Sean, under the name Twenty88, their self-titled debut album was made available to stream exclusively on TIDAL for four days, and was made available for download on April 1. According to the duo, “TWENTY88 tells the story of the highs and lows of a relationship, with insights into conflict, memories, love, sex, and more and features production from Key Wane, Detail, and Tommy Brown.”[73] From late 2016 to mid-2017, Aiko released numerous non-album singles such as 'Maniac', 'First Fuck' with 6lack and 'Hello Ego' featuring Chris Brown. The lead single to her second studio album, 'While We're Young', was released in June 2016. Aiko's sophomore album, Trip, was released without a prior announcement on September 22, 2017. The lead single, 'While We're Young', was released on June 9, 2017, for streaming and digital download. A 23-minute autobiographical film titled after the album was also released a day before Trip on September 21, 2017, co-directed by Aiko. On September 27, 2017, American singer Lana Del Rey revealed that Aiko would be opening for her on select dates of her concert tour entitled the LA to the Moon Tour during January 2018.[74] Aiko toured with Del Rey from January 5 to 13.

Blue Dream Lyrics

On May 8, 2019, Aiko released 'Triggered (freestyle)' which debuted at number fifty-one on the US BillboardHot 100[75] and peaked at number 3 on the US R&B Songs.[76] It's the first official single from her forthcoming 2019 album. The freestyle discussed various topics, including her past relationships.[77] There were immediate rumors that the song might have been addressing Aiko's ex-boyfriend, Big Sean.[78] However, Aiko went on Twitter to disperse the rumors about 'Triggered (freestyle)' being a diss track.[79]

Personal life[edit]

Aiko was baptized when she was 16 at the evangelical Pentecostal Foursquare Church.[80] She dated American R&B singer O'Ryan from 2005 to 2008. At the age of 20, Aiko gave birth to her daughter Namiko Love, with O'Ryan on November 19, 2008.[81] Before her brother Miyagi died of cancer on July 19, 2012, Aiko recorded 'For My Brother' on her laptop, which was initially intended only for her brother's ears. He died soon after hearing the record.[citation needed]

On August 27, 2013, Aiko was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles along with her daughter Namiko, older sister Miyoko, and her daughter's father O'Ryan. Aiko suffered a broken wrist, chipped a tooth and had stitches in her chin. Her daughter was unharmed in the accident.[82]

On March 16, 2016, Aiko and Oladipo 'Dot da Genius' Omishore revealed they were married.[83] On August 9, 2016, Aiko filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized in October 2017.[84][85]

Aiko was named PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2016, and posed naked in their anti-fur 'Drop the Fur' ad campaign.[86][87] She is a vegan.[88]

Aiko was rumored to be dating Big Sean since 2016, and their relationship was later confirmed in an Instagram post.[89][90] In November 2018, it was rumored that Aiko broke up with Big Sean after she covered up a tattoo of him.[91] It was reported that the couple broke up in mid-December 2018, and it was confirmed in March 2019.[92][93] They are still friends.[94]

Artistry[edit]

Voice and music[edit]

Aiko's voice was described as having 'gentle pop-tinged vocals [..] [a] sensually sweet voice',[95] and Jim Farber of the New York Daily News described her voice as having a 'feathery tone, sky-high pitch and dazed delivery' that floats 'above the beat, sexy and aloof'; Farber said she was 'the female answer' to Frank Ocean.[96] Jordan Sargent of Pitchfork Media compared Aiko's vocals to those of R&B singers Cassie, Brandy, Ciara and, the late Aaliyah.[97] Thematically Aiko's work contains direct and 'acute', lyrics that can be sometimes 'girlish.'[98] Adam Fleischer of MTV described Aiko's lyrical content as being 'catchy and emotive,' continuing to note Aiko's lyrics as having no boundaries; which mix 'moments of sensitivity and love, but also moments of confusion and aggression.'[99]

Aiko’s newfound style lies somewhere between the soothing sounds of Sade and what can be nebulously described as “future R&B,” a broad spectrum of pioneering music-makers making tunes best served in the midnight hour, including The Weeknd, Tinashe and FKA twigs.

— Bradley Stern, Time[100]

Jhene's musical style is associated with a new wave of music called PBR&B,[101] which is described as emerging, stylistic alternative to contemporary R&B.[102][103][104][105] Besides PBR&B Aiko's explores a variety of genres including psychedelic music, classic R&B and hip hop music.[106] Aiko has described herself as being part of this movement, she noted her own musical style as being 'alternative' and a 'new-generation R&B', which she compared herself to the style of Frank Ocean, Miguel and Drake.[107] Described by Erin Lowers a reviewer from XXL magazine, Aiko's music is alternative R&B, which the reviewer described as being created with the use of heavily used synthesizers and 'wooly drum loops,' the reviewer continued to say that her genre is caught in a 'revolutionized limbo.'[108] Bradley Stern of Time, compared the Aiko's musical style to the work of Sade, calling the album's genre 'future R&B', Stern continued to compare her music to the work of The Weeknd, Tinashe and FKA twigs.[109]

Aiko writes music every day, often writing lines or a poem, and begins to add them to melodies. She describes her writing style as 'freestyle,' where she just says how she is feeling, taking a day or up to a month to complete.[110] During the recording of the album Aiko opted to freestyle when writing the album, she would have a beat or would sit with producers and she would sing a melody until she had words, she described the process as not having a lot written down saying 'there's not a lot of writing down—I'll only write it down to make sure it makes sense after I come up with it. For the most part, I like to not have second thoughts.'[111] Aiko revealed that whilst writing music she enjoys being high in order to use the feeling as inspiration and that for the entire writing and recording process of her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s), she was under the influence of cannabis. When writing for her debut studio album, she did the same but recorded while sober.[112] Aiko places great importance on writing her music, believing it defines her as an artist: 'After each song I've lost like a piece of me, because I've put it in to (sic) the song.'[112] Singer Nick Jonas cited Aiko as an influence during the recording of his debut album, noting her alternative R&B sound as his influence.[113]

Influences[edit]

John Mayer is one of Aiko's biggest influences.

Aiko cites American rapper Tupac as a major influence, saying he is 'a big inspiration for me just to stick to who I am and to actually stand for something through music' and 'an icon for speaking your mind and being you, even if it's controversial.' [114][115] Aiko also cites R&B singer Aaliyah,[116]Eminem and Kendrick Lamar as influences.[114] Aiko also calls recording artist Kid Cudi, a major influence, stating Cudi is 'pretty much one of the only people that I listen to consistently. No matter what he puts out, I'm one of those fans. He can do no wrong in my eyes.'[114]

Aiko also credits Brandy as a major influence, saying, 'I always say the person who taught me how to sing indirectly because I listened to her all the time was Brandy. I fell in love with her voice when I was six years old. I always loved Brandy.' Aiko also listens to Beyoncé to learn from her vocal technique and is also influenced by India.Arie and Amel Larrieux. Aiko is influenced by John Mayer saying 'He's probably one of my number one musical influences because of his writing ability and his voice.'[117]

During the recording of her debut extended play “Sail Out' (2013), Aiko stated she took a large amount of influence from hip-hop and rap music notably the genre's beats.[118][119] Aiko has stated growing up in a musical family influenced her, noting her siblings bands as an influence, Aiko also cited R&B band TLC as an influence when growing up. During the 1990s, she began listening to Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, and Lil' Kim, stating her influences were a mixture, following this Aiko began listening to Sade Adu.[120]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
  • Souled Out (2014)
  • Trip (2017)
Collaboration albums
  • Twenty88 (2016) (with Big Sean as Twenty88)

Tours[edit]

Headlining
  • Enter the Void Tour (2014)
  • Trip (The Tour) (2017–18)[121]
Supporting
  • J. Cole – Forest Hills Drive Tour (2014–2015)
  • Drake – Would You Like a Tour? (2013–2014)
  • The Weeknd – King of the Fall Tour (2014)
  • Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa – The High Road Summer Tour (2016)
  • Lana Del Rey – LA to the Moon Tour (2018)
  • Beyoncé & Jay-Z - On the Run II Tour (2018) [122]

Jhene Aiko Background

Awards and nominations[edit]

American Music Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResultRef.
2014HerselfFavorite Female Artist- Soul/R&BNominated[123]
BET Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
2014[124]HerselfBest Female R&B/Pop ArtistNominated
'The Worst'Centric AwardWon
Grammy Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
2015'The Worst'Best R&B SongNominated
Sail OutBest Urban Contemporary AlbumNominated
'Blak Majik' (with Common)Best Rap/Sung CollaborationNominated
Soul Train Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
2014[125]HerselfBest New ArtistNominated
'The Worst'Video of The Year
'The Worst,' Jhene Aiko (Jhene Aiko Chilombo, Mac Robinson, Brian Warfield)The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter's Award

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External links[edit]

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Jhené Aiko
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jhené Aiko.
  • Jhené Aiko at AllMusic
  • Jhené Aiko discography at Discogs
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