Sail Out or Sell Out: Is Jhene Aiko Really the Next Sade?


“Sail Out means to be free, go with the wind, like a sailboat. I think that’s really important when it comes to peace…inner peace especially. You can’t help anyone else if you don’ t have it together for yourself.” – Jhené Aiko

If you haven’t listened to Jhené Aiko’s new EP Sail Out yet, then you should.

Not because it’s good, not because it will change your life, not even because you have nothing else to do (besides read this article).  You should listen because it will make you a part of history.

That line is dramatic, I know…but it caught you’re attention. Perhaps starting with Kanye West and moving all the way to Frank Ocean and to Drake’s most recent project, the “R&B” and “Pop” records being put out today are…well, different.

Take Jhené Aiko. This is her first project under Artium (part of Def Jam), which was established by producer/Def Jam executive VP of A&R Dion “No I.D.” Wilson, who signed Aiko as his first artist in late 2011.

When speaking about Aiko, he says, “When I heard Jhené, she immediately struck me as the first female voice in what I call the new wave of R&B. She understands full-on melodies and emotion but writes freestyle lyrics on par with hip-hop depth and complexity. In my eyes she’s a modern Sade.”

He seriously thinks she’s the new wave of R&B, a modern Sade at that. To be honest, I don’t really hear it. If anything, she reminds me of the female version of Drake. That stream of conscious [emo, to be frank] type of music where each song compliments the other. Almost as if you were listening to one very long track.

Still I can’t deny the fact that her music is finally garnering a lot of interest—she has been creating music for quite a long time. Jhené was signed under Epic (the same label as B2K) at the young age of 13, but left after 2 years to finish school and “explore her options.” She spent the next several years around the music business, but by 2008 she had given birth to a girl with Omarion’s brother, singer O’Ryan.

Her next project was a mixtape called Sailing Soul(s). This latest EP, Sail Out is a precursor to her first solo album, Souled Out (see the pattern here?).

Even if you aren’t quite in love yet with Jhené’s music, you have to give her credit for her lyrical talent (she wrote all 7 songs on the EP) as well as sticking with a consistent style. The genius behind putting this EP out before her album is that it gives her leverage as an artist. Given the politics behind the music industry and her dropping from Epic at an early age, we can surmise that she hasn’t been given the creative power that she desires. She has been featured on songs by many reputable artists, but has never “broken out’ per say. Building momentum pre-album release not only gives her a broader fan base, but it also gives her creative power for her subsequent performances, music videos, and subsequent projects.

Now, onto the music.

Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Childish Gambino are just a few who appear on her EP. And here are a few of my favorite lines by Ms. Aiko:

“We do not exist in any other instant. Here in this dimension you and I are meant to be. I have waited lifetimes to find you. Now that you’re here I can remind you of the things you’ve been dreaming, times two.“ – Stay Ready

 “I am Alice, I’m in Wonderland. Where’s the rabbit? He is late again. Goodness, Gracious. I can’t wait for him. Who has got the time? Round and round and Round and round we go. It’s just like the same scenario. Good for nothing, feels like somethin’ ain’t right” – WTH

 “wait, now my thoughts so cloudy and my heart so crowded with pain. I am so frustrated like my soul’s been taken away. Broken promise of everything that I thought you were. Thought you said this would never hurt. That’s what it did that is all…I do not fear the thought of falling, thought I could fly…” – 3:16am

“And don’t take it personal, but you’re the worst. You know what you’ve done to me and although it hurts I know…I just can’t keep runnin’ away” – The Worst (see below for the new video)

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