Almost a year after the release of her highly anticipated debut Souled Out, Jhené Aiko is finally where she belongs – on the top of charts and in the ears of everyone that has willingly transported into her harmonious cosmos.
Truth is, the Pisces songstress is unfazed by fame and the stigma of celebrity, keeping self preservation and family at the core of her compassionate inner being. “I’m just happy to show the world my growth,” she told VIBE over the phone while promoting Pepsi’s “Out of the Blue” campaign.
At 27 years old, the devout hippie emits a vaporous vibe that reads cool, calm and collected. And don’t be fooled by Aiko’s petite stature, baby face and soft-spoken voice either because the Slauson Hills native keeps it realer than most (see “Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle)” for a friendly reminder).
Riding the wave of success by her own rules, Jhené resides in a world above the hate and negativity that once consumed her life (ladies, get into “Lyin King“). Amidst her crazy schedule, VIBE had the opportunity to telephonically share good vibes with Jhené.
Scroll down to see what the songbird had to say about self love, eating the booty and the song that closely resembles her sex life.–Ashley Monaé
VIBE: After releasing your debut album, how’s life been? How are you handling your new-found fame?
Jhené Aiko: It’s all a process. I feel like this was my first time creating this album on my own, and now I sort of have that full experience and know more of what I want to do. I’m just always excited to give my audience new material and whatever else I want them to learn. It’s about them continuing to grow with me. Since then, it’s just been like you said, people starting to see me more as an artist. I’m just happy to show the world my growth.
somewhere between the 3rd grade and 26 years old…. i lost sight of who i was and where i was going ….i didn’t even know it… not many people noticed or cared …. but this year @ 27…. i embarked on a crazy trip and got lost …. and would u look at who i found? that same curious, passionate, optimistic, bushy eyebrowed 3rd grader that thought she could save the world…. she was still right where i left her. she was still me and i was still her … i hope she stays for a while. (thank you @simonemoorexo for your pic stitch) ttyl everybody.
Speaking of growth, you recently celebrated your 27th birthday. On Instagram, you posted a sentimental #TBT photo and spoke on how you lost sight of who you were along your life’s journey. I must ask, are you still that wanderer you spoke so passionately about on “Spotless Mind?”
I think that when you do a lot of press and a lot stuff all the time, you’re unknowingly putting on a show. Without even knowing it, you’re questioning yourself in so many ways. What if this person doesn’t like me? Am I doing the right thing? You start to care a lot about what other people are thinking. The photo I posted was a split shot of myself in third grade versus today. When you’re in the third grade and you’re young, you love everything. I liked my hair. I liked my eyebrows. I liked myself. I liked other people, too, you know. But as you grow up, especially in this type of business, where you’re constantly being critiqued, you find yourself caring a lot about things you shouldn’t all for them to respect you or be pleased with you. I don’t know. After having my own daughter and watching her grow up, that taught me a lot too. Just having that experience of being young and caring too much, it’s tough. I just got tired and finally started listening to myself. I decided I had to do what makes me happy, what makes me most comfortable. I am still that wanderlust girl, you know what I mean. That’s the way I’ve always been, but it’s more-so about not caring who likes it or doesn’t like it.
The “Spotless Mind” video features your ex. What advice would you give to young parents in their 20s on how to “keep the relationship cute” even if they’re not together and have kids?
I would say keep the communication, always. You have to be in constant communication because if you’re a person that really knows how to communicate then you are able to actively listen and really understand that person. I think when you understand someone you love them, that’s just what it is. [My ex and I] are at an advantage because we actually grew up together. We went to elementary school together and grew up like family so it’s very easy for us to not be together but still be friends. When you have a child, that person becomes your family so you have to look at it from that point. He’s not just my ex, we’re family forever.
You know that’s always been my dream collaboration, Cudi and I. Cudi is very exclusive when it comes to his work, and I understand and respect that because music is something very special for him. I definitely can’t wait for it to come out.
Million dollar question: Where did that crazy line “eat the booty like groceries” come from?
(Laughs) It came from myself and Micah Powell who wrote “July” [that first song Drake and I did]. He actually wrote [“July”] around the time I was pregnant and wasn’t really writing so ever since then, he’s been someone that I work closely with. When it came to “Post To Be,” Omarion wanted me on the song so we made it happen. They had already written the song except for my part and when we sat down to write it, I was like this reminds me of those Vine videos that were going around of that guy saying, “I eat the booty. I’m supposed to eat the booty.” Then I heard “Post To Be” and I was like, oh, I should talk about eating the booty. Get it? It was like “post to” and “supposed to.” So yeah, that’s really how we came up with the line. I knew that it would be sort of shocking for people and cause a little stir, but I also have a crazy sense of humor and I like to be inappropriate a lot of the times. (Laughs)
So… not a past experience?
Not a personal experience. (Laughs) You know, it’s a fun song though. I could see if it was one of my own songs and it was a ballad or something, then it would be weird. But the song is fun, so I went along with it.
How soon is too soon to expose the freak?
It all depends on how comfortable you feel with someone. You never know, it could take a few months or a few years but definitely the first time, you should probably not expose the freak. You know, you don’t know if they are like that, but if you don’t care and you’re doing it for you then by all means expose the freak.
If your sex life, was a song what would it be?
Wow. “Keep Your Head Up.” (Laughs) No, no, that’s just a joke. You know what, I think “Cruisin'” [by Smokey Robinson] because it should be a nice steady vibe. It’s not about the climax, it’s about the journey. You know, cruising together.
“Living Room” is the most recent track you’ve released. Was it actually written in the living room?
It was not written in the living room, but I love the living room. I wanted it to have that vibe like you know how people are like, “I’m on my such-and-such flow,” you know, the slang.
Is it your favorite place in the house?
I think the living room has a lot of great areas and lots of different textures. It makes for a great time.
Heartbreak and relationships are the usual narratives people have grown to expect from you as an artist, but you’re proving many people wrong. Do you think there is a Jhené DNA and formula to your song writing method?
Yeah, I think that from “The Worst” and “July” people got only got one side of me. I have a lot of songs that aren’t about relationships, but I think the most popular ones are about relationships just because women can relate to the things that I talk about. The formula for me is to just keep it real with whatever I’m going through and express myself. Music is my way [to] get through things I’m going through so relationships with my family, myself, God. The music is relevant and rich in life experiences.
Now that you’re happily in a relationship, do you think the dialogue of your songs will be different?
The dialogue grows with me so there will always be some element of me going through something with a man or whatever I happen to be going through in life – a lesson in learning.
Tell me about your involvement with Pepsi’s Out Of The Blue Campaign.
I’ve been working them with them for some months now. With the Pepsi Out Of The Blue Campaign, we’re bringing fans closer with their favorite music artists and giving them really cool out of the blue experiences. Throughout the summer, we’ll be giving out lots of cool prizes and exclusive access and digital content.
As an artist whose music is so personal, what has been one of the most out of the blue and touching fan experiences you’ve had?
One that really, really touched me happened to happen when I was having a bad day. I walked to go eat at a restaurant around my house and sat by myself at this big table. It was like one of those tables where someone would be like, “Aw, why are you eating alone?” I didn’t really think anyone would notice me where I was, but this girl came up to me and was like, “I didn’t really want to say anything to you, but I just really wanted to say thank you and thank you for your music.” She was telling me how her Dad passed away from cancer and was crying, but it was so different from any other experience I’ve witnessed before. I’ve had this same situation happen before with fans, but usually there are other things happening like a show or a meet-and-greet and there’s lots of energy and excitement. The energy and vibe was totally different, more personal. With me going through something that day myself, I was touched. You know, it was one of those days I wasn’t really feeling that great about myself so when she came up to me, I was like, “No, thank you because you just made me feel like I am actually doing something good.” As an artist, that’s the best feeling ever.
Photo Credit: Silja Magg