You Should Listen To: Jhené Aiko

Photo of Jhene Aiko for Chilombo deluxe album. She has box braids and black flowers in her hair; her makeup is dark and heavy.

You Should Listen To is a new segment I will be doing in place of the song spotlight-type posts I’ve made where I write about a song I love. This space will now be for multiple songs that I want to showcase featuring a common theme. In most cases, the theme will be the artist or the genre. Lacking the research and overall fuller story that my other posts provide, this feature will be focused specifically on the songs.

I thought the modern R&B slow jam wasn’t my thing. It’s not a genre I’ve really gotten into much, besides an occasional toe-dip here and there. I’ve always enjoyed singers who lean more into the neo-soul, hip-hop, or pop elements. There’s something so intimate about R&B, and I guess it’s never really filled a need within me. If I want to listen to someone croon about sex, love, and heartbreak, I much prefer the classic soul singers of old, like Marvin Gaye or Bill Withers.

However, I’ve found that I definitely have a place in my heart for modern R&B singers who want to sing about relationships in a silky smooth voice. I heard Jhené Aiko on a best of 2020 list and decided to give her other stuff a listen (besides just the features I know her from). I love her vibe and her voice so much I knew she had to debut my You Should Listen To segment.

Here’s an unbiased, high-level look at some tracks* I’d like to showcase by Jhené Aiko. I’m no expert, nor do I claim this to be a comprehensive or “best-of” list. This is a new fan’s perspective on what I think her standout tracks are. I put them in reverse chronological order, just for some semblance of organization that wasn’t a ranking. Yeah, for once, I didn’t want to do track rankings.

*This will only include songs that she released, not her features on someone else’s track.

Triggered (Freestyle) – The fact that this was written about a real “moment” of pain in regards to a breakup really shows. I’m here for it.

None of Your Concern (feat. Big Sean) – A good tandem with “Triggered”, especially considering that “Triggered” and “None of Your Concern” are about, at least in part, ex-boyfriend Big Sean. Not only does she remain friends with him though, he’s FEATURED ON THIS DAMN SONG. That’s iconic.

BS (feat. H.E.R.) – Beautiful, chill R&B jam that has quickly become one of my favorite songs by Jhené. H.E.R. kills it, too, and combined with her singing of “America the Beautiful” before the Super Bowl, I am definitely going to check out her music.

P*$$Y Fairy (OTW) – This absolute killer sex jam was the song on a YouTuber’s year-end countdown list that made me look her up.

Party for Me (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)– Her rap part is kind of cringe, but the rest of it is “24K Magic” Bruno Mars, retro goodness (which itself is inspired by late 80s and early 90s funk and soul).

OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive) (feat. TWENTY88) – Evoking skating rink banger vibes of old, everything about this is euphoric, young-and-in-love gold.

Sativa (feat. Swae Lee) – I usually don’t like songs about getting high, but this is an exception for obvious reasons.

Psilocybin (Love In Full Effect) (feat. Dr. Chill) – I usually don’t like songs about getting high, but this is an exception for obvious reasons. Also, after learning that Trip (the album this song comes from) was about her coping with the grief of losing her brother to cancer, I realized it’s not just about “getting high”.

Ascension (feat. Brandy) – Hey, remember Brandy? No idea if she’s making music anymore, but she’s a good addition on this hopeful lullaby that turns into a soulful mantra.

WTH (feat. Ab-Soul) – I usually don’t like songs about getting high, but–. Okay, I’ll write something different. Honestly, this song was saved by Ab-Soul’s verse. Otherwise, it would have been a good song, but ultimately left off the list.

The Worst – “Don’t take this personally, but you’re the worst.” Wow. She does know how to synthesize her heartbreak into a good song, doesn’t she?

Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle) – Amazing that this made the list despite having no discernable beat or melody. I love her fun, breezy jams, but her songs about heartbreak and pain are amazing.

Jhené Aiko Spotify Artist Page
Jhené Aiko Apple Music Page

–Yours Truly, Queen Dopamine

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