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October 03, 2011  | by: Stephanie Scott

Jhene Aiko

Jhene Aiko (pronounced Juh-Nay Ahh-ee-ko) is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter with a voice to be heard. With her clever metaphors, distinctive voice, and beautiful persona, the mainstream music industry should give this woman a legit record deal, as long as she has complete creative control.

Aiko’s not a stranger to the industry, though. At 12 years old, she was signed to Epic/TUG Records, the record label that the former R&B boy band B2K were signed to. When she was 16, she asked to be released from both companies to finish high school.

“I escaped the made-up world of Hollywood to experience the natural beauty of the real world,” she said on her website, jheneaiko.com. (If you have a smartphone, you can scan the barcode on the site to get exclusive content!)

Aiko is a 23-year old Los Angeles native. She is Japanese, Native American, African American, Black Spaniard, and Dominican. Talk about a combination! She is the mother of a baby girl named Namiko. Before she conceived her daughter, she had a meeting with a label executive and was told to “sell” herself when “walking into these meetings.”

Jhene Aiko and Her Daughter, Namiko

Jhene decided that she would “sail” herself rather then “sell” herself. This is where she got the inspiration for her highly popular and free mixtape, Sailing Soul(s). It was released in March 2011 with the help of LA-based producers Fisticuffs and a few others.  She wrote all of the songs, except the song “July,” which was written by Micah Powell. The mixtape, which Jhene calls her “second child,” consists of 13 tracks, each with clever lyrics, Jhene’s mellow voice, and vivid instrumentals. A few tracks feature Miguel, Gucci Mane, Kanye West, Drake, Hope Wright, and a few others.

Aiko says that Sailing Soul(s) is her first of many offerings to any and everyone who will listen and pay attention. The mixtape is real, and you can hear the truth through the lyrics as she talks about her life experiences.  In one of her tracks, called “Space Jam,” she sings, “I got a baby to feed, I barely can eat, I’m chasing a dream.” Can she get any more honest? Seriously.

For her dedicated fans, Aiko is selling “Sail Your Soul” t-shirts on her website. The t-shirts are only 15 dollars and come in white or black. With that purchase, you can get a free download of her song, “Snapped.”

After receiving so much positive feedback from that mixtape, Jhene is still as humble as can be.  Aiko likes to talk about a range of things, not just love.  She even considers herself an urban-hippie.

She’s currently working on her upcoming project, Souled Out, which is a continuation of Sailing Soul(s).  There’s no specific date as to when the mixtape will be released, but hopefully soon. She has her response song to Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” “Do Better Blues Part 2 (Marvin’s Room Remix),” out now.

Jhene is also performing at different venues in LA, and her fan base is continually growing.  She’s so in tune with herself, which is inspiring, and she seems so relatable.  Be sure to check out Jhene Aiko on twitter and tumblr for the latest!

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