Who Is Jhene Aiko?

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    27th Annual JazzReggae Festival - Day 1

    Who is Jhene Aiko? Jhene Aiko is an R&B singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles, her hometown. Born March 16, 1988, Jhene Aiko first gained notice as a preteen, when she signed with the Ultimate Group and Epic Records and began working with B2K, appearing on a number of the group’s soundtrack and compilation cuts.

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    Aiko was slated to release a solo album, but drama with Epic kept that from happening, and at 16 years old, she asked to be released from her contract. She decided toward the end of the ‘00s to return to music, and in 2011, Jhene Aiko dropped the mixtape “Sailing Soul(s).” The following year, she signed with Def Jam vice president No I.D.’s Artrium Records imprint, and she’s prepping a debut album, “Souled Out,” expected sometime in 2013.

    Who is Jhene Aiko? It’s a question R&B fans might understandably ask, as she’s no household name, but the singer is very much on the verge of blowing up. Blessed with “gentle, pop-tinged vocals,” according to Rap-Up.com, and the kinds of exotic beauty that comes with being of mixed Japanese, African American, Native American, Spanish, German Jewish and Dominican descent, Jhene Aiko is making up for the time she spent away from the music industry.

    Who is Jhene Aiko? True hip-hop heads might answer quickly and tell you that Jhene Aiko has worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar (“Growing Apart [To Get Closer]”), Schoolboy Q (“Fantasy,” “Sex Drive”), Big Sean (“I’m Gonna Be”) and J. Cole (“Sparks Will Fly”), among other rappers. Aiko is also tight with Drake, Gucci Mane, Kayne West and Miguel, four of the many guest stars on “Sailing Soul(s),” which, according to DatPiff.com, has been downloaded more than 315,000 times. In 2012, Jhene Aiko toured with Nas and Lauryn Hill, gaining further exposure through her association with those veteran artists.

    Who is Jhene Aiko? Not merely an R&B singer, as she explained in an interview with HipHopDx.com.

    “A part of that is that I don’t really consider myself an R&B artist because of my image and everything,” she said. “I don’t come out on stage with dancers, I’m not doing choreography. I come on the stage with a cup of Hennessy. The Hip Hop crowd relates to it. They see that I’m up there and I’m just gonna tell some stories. That’s the audience that I want. I don’t want the audience that expects me to do a back-flip and hit all these notes. I always pay tribute to Tupac in the middle of my set [too].”

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