Jhene Aiko Bio
Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo was born on March 16, 1988 and raised in Los Angeles, California. This American singer-songwriter and recording artist is better known as Jhene Aiko (pronunciation “Juh-nay Ahh-ee-ko”).
Jhene Aiko’s ethnicity is that of Japanese, African American, Spanish, and Native American descent. Her father, Dr. Karamo Chilombo (birth name Greg Barnes) is a pediatrician, and her mother is Christina Yamamoto. She has two older sisters named Miyoko and Jamila. Her brother Miyagi died in July 2012 after a two year battle with cancer.
Complex magazine, she states, “there was a new label boss who wasn’t well-versed in who I was or my music. I was just like, “You know what? I want to get released.”
Always the hard worker, Jhene held two jobs at the age of 18. She worked at her uncle’s law firm as a receptionist during the day, and then commuted by bus to a second job at the mall. She worked at a vegan restaurant after the birth of her daughter and recorded her mixtape after work.
Jhene Aiko Brother
Family is most important to Jhene Aiko. The one dark spot in her life is losing her brother Miyagi Hasani Ayo Chilombo (Miyagi) to cancer on July 19, 2012. He was 26 years old. They were very close and would often get high together and have serious discussions about life.
When Miyagi learned that he had a brain tumor he turned to Buddhism. Despite his illness, he was always in good spirits. He would never let his friends know that he was sick. It turned out to be an inoperable brain tumor. He was ill for two years and fought the good fight.
Jhene channeled her pain and sorrow into her music and dedicated the song “For My Brother” to Miyagi. He was able to hear the song on the day he passed away. Jhene and her two sisters, held a tattoo memorial service in his honor.
Several of the tattoos that are etched into Jhene’s skin, represent designs that Miyagi wanted to have before he passed. One tattoo on her back is an image of worlds contained within worlds. She has a tattoo with tiny characters on her left wrist that represents the last Tweet Miyagi sent to her: “Why aren’t you smiling?”
She has a special tattoo called Rising Sun on her shoulder that her brother wanted to get. It has 16 rays, which coincides with her birthday on March 16, “3:16.” For her, the Rising Sun represents her brother. Even though he is gone, she feels that the lives he touched “embody him and we all get to take him with us. Now his energy is dispersed amongst us.”
Jhené Aiko Daughter
At the age of 20 years, Jhene Aiko had a daughter with O’Ryan Omir Browner (O’Ryan), who is the younger brother of B2K singer Omarion. Jhene always knew that she wanted her daughter to have a Japanese name. After reading a book by the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, she named her baby Namiko, which means “child of the wave.” Her middle name is Love.
According to the Abbot’s teachings, there is no difference between the water and the wave. There is also no such thing as birth and death because the wave cannot die, since it’s all water. Things manifest when the conditions are right, and they do not manifest when conditions are not right. There are also no ends or beginnings, just continuation.
Jhene admits that life can be tough as a single parent, especially as she becomes more successful. Fortunately, Jhene has a very supportive family. Her eldest sister holds everything together. When Jhene is out of town, her sister or mom would take care of her daughter Namiko, along with her daughter’s father O’Ryan.
When Jhene is home, she juggles work and taking care of her daughter. Her goal is to put in as much time into her career now so that when Namiko grows older, she can join her on tours and have a tutor for her.
Jhene Aiko Music Career
When Jhene Aiko returned to the music industry, she decided to do it on her own terms. When she was to have a meeting with a label head, she was advised to “sell” herself during her interview. This idea did not sit well with her and she decided to “sail” herself. She states, “I’m not a slave to anyone; I’m sailing my soul instead of selling it.”
On March 16, 2011, Jhene Aiko released her mixtape entitled “Sailing Soul(s)” through her official website, jheneaiko.com. All of the songs were written by her except for “July,” and most of them were produced by Fisticuffs. The mixtape features collaborations with other artists like Drake, Kanye West, and Miguel.
In 2012, record producer, No I.D., signed Jhene Aiko to his Artium Records imprint through Def Jam. She states the reason for signing with No I.D. was because he made her feel comfortable. The fact that he was an artist and not just a label head factored a lot in her decision. They ended up having many discussions about Buddhism and spirituality. Most important is that he gets who she is.
On September 4, 2012, the track “3:16AM” was released for digital download on iTunes. It was the first single from Sail Out. She was also the opening act for rapper Nas and singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill’s Life is Good/Black Rage concert tour.
In June 2013, Jhene was featured on the song “Beware” by Big Sean, which hit the Top 40 and was her first song to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In October 2013, Drake announced that Jhene Aiko would be the opening act on his Would You Like a Tour? concert tour. She and Drake had previously collaborated on his third album Nothing Was the Same (2013) by adding her vocals on two tracks, “From Time” and “Wu-Tang Forever.”
On November 12, 2013, Jhene Aiko released her debut EP Sail Out, which was received to rave reviews. It debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold 34,000 copies. It debuted at No. 1 on the R&B charts. Sail Out features several rappers, including Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples and Ab-Soul.
The single “Bed Peace” featuring Childish Gambino was the second single to be released from the album. The artwork on the single’s cover was inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-Ins for Peace, during their protest of the Vietnam War.
Jhene Aiko states in her USAToday interview, “I loved them as a couple. They photographed themselves in bed together, they did everything together. Everyone knows who the Beatles are, but I don’t think younger people know John and Yoko’s message of world peace. That’s what this song is about.”
Jhene Aiko Musical Style
Jhene Aiko’s musical style is associated with a new wave of music that is a mixture of R&B, indie pop and neo soul. Her voice has been described as “soft and sultry,” “gentle pop-tinged vocals,” “sensually sweet,” “she sings and raps in an ethereal voice so gentle it can seem childlike.”
Jhene has received praise for her live performances and stage presence. She has even been compared to singer Sade. According to critics, she has an “ease and a calm that rides along ever so gently” as she moves fluidly between each song on her set list.
Jhene’s writing style has been compared to that of a rapper and not that of a singer. She admits that she never realized it until a friend told her that she has the cadence of a rapper. It may be the result of her listening to rap more than she does R&B.
As Jhene Aiko explains in her Global Grind interview, “there are songs that are more singing songs, but then there are songs where I’m more about the words and the melodies, not really about the singing. I try to split the difference.”
Jhene Aiko Songwriting
Jhene Aiko is a songwriter in her own right, having written most of the songs on her albums. She describes herself as “freestyle” writer, who writes music every day. She believes that writing one’s own music helps to define an artist. She states, “after each song I’ve lost like a piece of me because I’ve put it into the song.”
Jhene’s creative process is to add melodies to the lyrics or poems she writes. She admits that she likes being high while writing music and channels the inspiration into it. She finds smoking weed acts like therapy and helps her to release and channel those raw emotions from pain and frustration. She admits being under the influence of cannabis while writing and recording her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s).
According to Jhene, she writes from a very personal place and so the songs are in chronological order of what has been happening in her life. The songs are meant to take the audience on a journey with her. They are confessional in nature and often speak of love and loss.
Her greatest influence is rapper Tupac, who has inspired her to stick to who she is and to stand for something through music. She sees Tupac as an icon for speaking his mind and being himself despite causing controversy. The other artists who have influenced her music are Brandy, Beyoncé, India.Arie, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Aaliyah, Kid Cudi and John Mayer.
Jhene Aiko Religion
Jhene Aiko’s family was not very religious while she was growing up. Since her father is a doctor, his beliefs tended to be more scientific. Even though her grandmother would take her to a Christian church, she gravitated towards Buddhism because “it’s not very preachy” and it requires that “you let go of the ego.”
Jhene got into Buddhism at the age of 15. She admits that letting go of her ego can be very challenging in the music business. She states that you need to remember “it’s not the boss of you” and to ignore it. She also tries not to look at herself on television or get caught up with being a celebrity. She has a close-knit family that keeps her grounded.
Jhené Aiko Drake
Jhene Aiko first met Drake in 2009 during the time that she found out she was pregnant and he was releasing his mixtape So Far Gone. She kept her pregnancy a secret, while deciding which artist she wanted to work with and what she would write about.
Even though she had known about Drake from his television show Degrassi because her younger family members watched it, they did not meet until a mutual friend introduced them. As she recalls, “he was nowhere near who he is today, even though the underground music people were like, ‘He’s next!’”
According to Jhene, she looks up to Drake because of what he has accomplished with his career. She declares, “He can act, he can rap, he can sing, I can relate to him. He’s mixed, I’m mixed.” She sees him as being talented and well-rounded. She often seeks his advice, especially about being a celebrity.
On January 18, 2014, Jhene Aiko appeared on Saturday Night Live alongside guest host, Drake. He invited her onstage to perform the romantic duet From Time. Afterwards, they shared an unrehearsed playful moment after they were done. He says to her, “You need you some of this Drake love.” She replies, “None of that fake love.” They continued to banter back and forth.
At one point, Drake turns to hug Jhene just as she turns to hug another SNL cast member, which forced Drake to hug them both. The incident added fuel to the rumors that she and Drake were romantically involved.
Meanwhile, Jhené was concerned that Drake might think that she had dissed him. When she reached out to Drake, all he said was that she went on the Internet too much and she could not have agreed with him more. Thankfully, they were able to put the matter to rest.
Jhené Aiko Relationships
It is easy to see why people are curious about Jhene Aiko’s relationships. They always seem to think that she is in a relationship with the guys she makes music with. Anonymous sources claimed that she and Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover were lovers because they recorded “Bed Peace” together and posed like John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the cover art.
According to Jhene, they have the same publisher and one of his best friends went to school with her brother. They also have the same sarcastic and dry sense of humor. She is not bothered by rumors about their relationship, since they hang out together and are good friends.
As for Childish Gambino, he says that they met for dinner after her performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! When Jhene sent him the song, he wrote it that very night and emailed it back to her the next day.
Childish Gambino states in an interview, “This is why I love her. Like, I think she’s special. She doesn’t need anyone. Even if we were together, she wouldn’t really belong to me. She doesn’t belong to anyone.”
When asked to describe her ideal date, Jhene’s says that it is “weed, wine, food, sex…” When asked whether she is in a current relationship, she admits that she is seeing someone, but that she still considers herself single.
Jhene states that one problem is that when she talks to guys, they are suspicious of her relationships with other guys she has worked with. As she states in her Complex interview, “If I’m your girlfriend, that’s it. I’m practicing to be your wife at that point because I treat it seriously.”
She also has an answer for the guy in her life who worries about what happens while she is touring. “I can control myself. But if I’m single I don’t have anything I’m obligated to do for you.”
She declares, “At the same time, I would like a man to take control and say, I don’t want you to talk to those guys. Give me rules! Yeah! Why not? Be a man.” Then again, the guy she dates had better be able to take a little competition because to quote Jhene, “Me, I’m a free spirit.”
Misconceptions about Jhene Aiko
When asked about the biggest misconceptions people have about her, Jhene admits that because she is quiet and soft-spoken people are surprised to hear her say off-the-wall things. They listen to her music and create this perfect image of her. However, she prefers to channel her crazy side into her music rather than act on it.
At the same time, people like to think she is innocent, while forgetting that she has a child and was involved in relationships. As a matter of fact, she grew up listening to Snoop Dogg and even wrote her first rap at the age of 7. She was the one in elementary school teaching her classmates the words to “Hardcore” by Lil’ Kim.
Jhene considers herself an open book and would rather tell the truth when asked. She does so without compromising her friends by telling their secrets. As she states in her Complex interview, “One of my biggest fears is to die with all these secrets. I feel like sharing and connecting is what life is about and that’s what keeps everything going and the energy flowing.”
In 2013, Jhene Aiko revealed her alter ego as J. Hennessy, stating that she experiences twelve “different personalities in my head” everyday. J. Hennessy first appeared on her debut extended play Sail Out.
Jhene explains that J. Hennessy is the person who she becomes after drinking Hennessy. It began in middle school when a friend started calling her J-Henny for Jhene. Hennessy is also her drink of choice. J-Hennessy is the rapper, hip-hop, more aggressive side of her and how she feels when she is mad.
Jhené Aiko Accident
On August 27, 2013, Jhene Aiko was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles. She was seated in the backseat of her Prius with her daughter, Namiko, while her sister Miyoko was seated in front with O’Ryan, who was driving. They were dropping Jhene off to rehearsal when a car made an illegal U-turn in front of them.
Even though everyone was unharmed, Jhene broke her wrist while trying to protect her daughter from the impact. She chipped her tooth and cut her chin, which required seven stitches. Her vehicle was totaled.
Jhene Aiko is passionate about Hello Kitty because it appeals to her feminine side. She even tweeted that she never trusts a girl who doesn’t like Hello Kitty. She believes it means that the girl is taking herself too seriously. There are many ways to enjoy Hello Kitty. For example, she does not like pink, but her daughter does. She has all the black and leopard Hello Kitty stuff.
Her favorite vacation spot is Hawaii, which she calls a beautiful paradise. Her mother went to college there and has told her many stories about the island. She also has a number of Japanese relatives living there. Hawaii feels like home whenever she visits and she eventually plans to settle there.
Jhene Aiko is finally getting the recognition she deserves. She announced that her full-length album Souled Out would be released in May 2014. She also has guest appearances on Conan and will be playing Coachella in April. She is expected to play a few dates on Drake’s European concert tour.
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