Before making un-sober relationship drama a routine on her recent single "Smoke, Drink, Break-Up," seductive singer Mila J (older sis to Jhené Aiko) was already shmoozing with seasoned vets in the entertainment business as a dancer.
At the tender age of 7, Mila snagged a part as a bubble-blowing tot in Prince's 1991 video for "Diamonds And Pearls." His Purple Rain tour was also her first show, at least that's what she's told.
"I just know from my parents that that was my first concert because me and my older sister were kids. I was probably under three," she recalls to VIBE. "I probably shouldn’t have been there. I’m sure I had earplugs, so I don’t remember the experience of the concert but my mom just told me, 'Your first concert was Purple Rain.' I literally grew up with Prince. [His music's] like in my blood."
Memories of her video shoot day with Prince, however, remain as vivid as his catalog. "I remember like it was yesterday. He had his glasses on and he came walking in and just all of us were just looking at him like, 'Oh my God, that’s really Prince,' she said. "He just had that energy, like he demands a certain attention that’s just magical."
Little did she know that her admiration for the Purple One would land her right next to him, this time at his show at The Forum in her native Los Angeles. "It was my older sister’s birthday and we went full out. We made t-shirts and we’re adults at this point," she says. "The security comes and is like, 'Prince does this part where he brings girls on each corner of the stage, do you want to come?' And we're like, “Heck yeah we want to go!” So randomly out of all these people, we get pulled up [and got] to dance up there while he’s singing 'Kiss.'"
Fast forward to 2014 and it seems as if Prince has returned the favor. His new track "U Know" samples the sounds of Jahlil Beats from Mila's previous record "Blinded." The funky tune also retains her signature ad-lib grunts.
"My initial reaction [was] I was completely shocked. I still am," she says about discovering the song on SoundCloud and iTunes. "Everybody that knows me [knows Prince is] the ultimate artist to me. Like, growing up that’s who I listened to. I’ve always just been obsessed with Prince or any project that he even touches, from Vanity 6 to Apollonia, just everything. It still hasn’t really sunken in yet, so I’m still trying to register it."
Stay tuned for Mila J's forthcoming EP M.I.L.A. (Made In Los Angeles) due Sept. 30, which coincidentally drops a day after Prince's double release, Art Official Age and PLECTRUMELECTRUM, on Sept. 29.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)