Jhené Aiko (born Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo on March 16, 1988) is an American singer from Los Angeles. She is a songwriter and performer whose professional music career began after contributing vocals and appearing in several music videos for the RnB group, B2K. At the time, she was known as Lil’ Fizz’s (one of B2K members) cousin, but this has been proven as false as she is no in any way related to Fizz. The allegation was at the time used as a marketing strategy based on the suggestion of her record label to promote Aiko through the group and cultivate her following.
Signed to Sony and Epic Records, in 2003, all was set for Aiko to release her debut album My Name is Jhené, under the flagship of Sony, The Ultimate Group and Epic Records; however, the album was never released, and Aiko eventually asked to be released from her contract with the label to enable her to continue her education.
Aiko made her return to music in March 2011 with her first full-length project, a mixtape titled “Sailing Soul(s).” On December 16, 2011, Aiko signed a recording contract with ARTium, owned by American record producer No I.D. and distributed through Def Jam Recordings.
For the next few years, Aiko featured on numerous singles with several established and A-list stars, including a 2013 appearance on Big Sean’s single “Beware,” a song that also featured Lil Wayne. The song became her first appearance on the top 40 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2013, Aiko released her first project as an ARTium and Def Jam artist, an EP titled Sail Out. The E.P. was supported by singles like “Bed Peace,” “3:16 AM”, and “The Worst,” which went on to become certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
On September 9, 2014, Aiko released her major-label debut album titled Souled Out. She released her second studio album, Trip, on September 22, 2017. Her third studio album, Chilombo, was released on March 6, 2020. The album earned her three Grammy Award nominations, including the Album of the Year category.
It’s difficult to place the persona of Aiko, and at the time, restricting her artistry to one genre will be a great disservice to the other genres she seems efficient in. Found somewhere between pop-oriented R&B and traditional soul music, Jhené Aiko floats in between keys like an ethereal voice disembodied from typical format and genre distinctions. Every time she talks about herself, her music, or upcoming projects, she is usually unassuming because, according to her, she feels more comfortable easing into the big reveal rather than making a huge announcement or splash, which tend to fizzle out as soon as the buzz-catching headline is made.
Away from music, Aiko was baptized at the age of 16 at the Evangelical Pentecostal Foursquare Church. She was in a relationship with American R&B singer O’Ryan from 2005 to 2008, and when she was 20, she gave birth to her daughter Namiko Love. Aiko lost her brother Miyagi to cancer on July 19, 2012, but just before he died, she recorded “For My Brother,” a record intended for only her brother’s ears. He died soon after hearing the song.