Jhené Aiko; on the Journey of Healing through Music

Mack Mendenhall

Not often do you hear a voice so beautiful and pristine that it pierces you emotionally. But this has been every experience I’ve had with the music of Jhené Aiko. A delicate, seasoned presence in the alternative R&B genre, Jhené brings creative energy, soothing vocals, and hard-hitting rhymes to her music.

She is a voice of authenticity, serenity, and healing. Not only is she a talented singer-songwriter and producer, but she is also an advocate for mental health. Earlier this year, Jhené performed “America the Beautiful” at Super Bowl LVI, and in April she was named an ambassador for Didi Hersch Mental Health Services.

“There’s no coincidence that we are on this earth with billions of others and there’s no reason anyone should feel alone in anything that they’re going through,” Aiko said at the ceremony. “It’s important that we’re there for one another to help each other get through this journey because it can be beautiful.”

Jhené Aiko is a native of Los Angeles, California and began breaking into the music industry in the early 2000s, when she contributed vocals to some of B2K’s projects. Her first mixtape, Sailing Soul(s), was released in 2011 on her official website and featured appearances from Miguel, Kanye West, and Drake. She released her first EP, Sail Out, in 2013, which featured the hit single, “The Worst.”

Jhené gained further success with subsequent releases of her three full-length albums: Souled Out (2014), Trip (2017), and Chilombo (2020). In 2016, Jhené formed the hip-hop duo Twenty88 with her on-again, off-again boyfriend and rapper Big Sean. He appears on several of her songs, such as “Moments,” “OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive),” and “None of Your Concern.” Aiko was nominated for three Grammy Awards for Chilombo, including Album of the Year. On that album, she incorporated therapeutic vibrations of crystal singing bowls into every track.

Throughout her career, Jhené Aiko has been open about her own mental health issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, and losing her brother Miyagi to brain cancer. In an interview with People, Aiko shared how her mental health plays a role in parenting her 13-year-old daughter, Namiko Love. “I was physically feeling unhealthy and just seeing my energy level change for my daughter who is now 13,” she shared. “As she gets older, it becomes even more important for me to be well. I see her going through a lot of the same things I went through when I was her age and I let her know, it’s taken me 34 years to really learn certain techniques when I’m feeling anxious or angry. And yeah, it’s a journey.”

Listen below to Jhené’s latest release, Chilombo.