Music

EP: Jhené Aiko 'Sail Out'

And Trip Out

Jhené Aiko is a name that is sure to be on everyone’s lips in the near future. The 25 year-old singer/songwriter has just released her debut EP ‘Sail Out’ and it is already going down a treat.

You might recognise Jhené already from features with some of hip-hops hottest talents including Kendrick Lamar, Wale, J. Cole, Big Sean and most notably on Drake’s ‘From Time’ which features on his ‘Nothing Was The Same’ LP.  The reason these guys have been hooking up with Jhené lies in her dreamy, sweet vocal. She is so relevant to this new surge of alternative R&B that people just cannot get enough of her.

Sail Out’ is a seven track EP that was created to keep fans happy until the release of Aiko’s debut album ‘Souled Out’ that is due for release in late 2014. Overall, the EP works well on many levels. It is sonically and thematically coherent with Jhené stuck in a hazy trip bearing her soul in the most chilled out way.

Jhené opens ‘Sail Out’ with ‘The Vapors’ which features Vince Staples and has that split personality trait that shows up in most of the Aiko's tracks. At the beginning, we hear this sweet and almost innocent voice before it changes to something a bit more experienced as she suggestively repeats, “Can I hit it again?” That is the beauty of Aiko. At a first listen, you will be struck by the sweetness of her tone but when you really listen you get this extra sultry, sexy hit that is the essence of her music.

The hazy trip that I mentioned is sort of the centre of this EP. It comes to the fore on both ‘3.16am’ and ‘Wth.’ There is a foggy feeling as the L.A native sings “I am not ok, I am out my mind/ Out of space that’s where I’ve been going” on ‘3.16am.’ ‘Wth’ really delves into this subject as she begins by referencing Alice In Wonderland and explaining, “I might have got way too high.” Ab-Soul features on ‘Wth’ bringing us back to reality with his strong voice that contrasts to the cloudiness of Aiko’s vocals.

Along with Ab-Soul and Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino also appear on this EP. Gambino arrives on ‘Bed Peace’, which has a dreamy, chilled out vibe to it that would be perfect on a lazy summer’s day. Kendrick appears to lend his talents on a track titled ‘Stay Ready (What A Life)’. While the fog is still present, this track is a little more upbeat and makes for a great collaboration. Kendrick’s low, calm register adds so much to Jhené’s sound that when they come together it blends perfectly.

The standout track on ‘Sail Out’ comes in the form of ‘The Worst’. From the first few bars, I was reminded of Drake’s ‘From Time’. The music is similar as is the subject matter: a dysfunctional relationship. Aiko does not know what to do with this guy but what she does know is “I don’t need you but I want you.” There is a sort of helplessness and resignation to the fact that she will not get out of this pairing easily. We are also treated to Jhené’s rap skills as she samples Jay Z’s 'Excuse Me Miss' and really pulls it off.

Jhené has described her music as “alternative. It's new-generation R&B, like Frank Ocean, Miguel and Drake. It’s not in a box – it’s just us.” That is exactly what this EP is. It is just Jhené. It can get a little repetitive at times and that dreamy quality has the potential to turn sleepy if you listen to her too much. The haziness surrounding Jhené could very well seep through your speakers and draw you in, which creates a selectiveness to this EP. You have to select the right mood and time to turn this on. It will be interesting to hear ‘Souled Out’ when it is released next year and whether or not Jhené ups the tempo for a full studio album.

Until we can find that out, we have this ‘Sail Out’ EP and it is more than enough to keep us going. If you are searching for the perfect chill out music then you have come to the right place because Jhené will calm you down in an instant. ‘Sail Out’ is a promising effort and is a great introduction to Jhené if you do not know her already.

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