Jhene Aiko continues to amaze.
Stunning. If Jhene Aiko wasn't already a household name, she ought to be by now. The 25-year-old singer has appeared on numerous hip-hop tracks throughout the year, most notably Drake's "From Time", J. Cole's "Sparks Will Fly", and Big Sean’s radio smash "Beware". Sail Out* is Jhene’s first major label EP, and what a debut it is. The seven-track Extended Play is smoked out, dreamy and romantic.
Born in Los Angeles, Jhene brings along a trio of California-bred rappers along for the trip. Vince Staples appears on the opening song, "The Vapors", and his up-beat verse is the perfect addition to the a song that's both soothing and hypnotizing, with Jhene repeating "can I hit it again?" over subtle flute riffs. Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul also deliver solid verses on "Stay Ready" and "WTH", respectively.
The majority of Sail Out is sleepy and melodic, pertaining to either getting faded or relationship problems. Though these seem like typically played-out topics, Jhene's vocals come with a definite freshness. With the exception of the revealing bonus track "Comfort Inn Ending", each song is produced by frequent collaborator Fisticuffs, a combination that unquestionably works.
The highlight of the EP is arguably "Bed Peace", featuring Childish Gambino. Jhene's luminous voice lights up the acoustic instrumental like the morning sun. Not only does she sing masterfully, but her lyrics stand out as well. Following Bino's witty verse, she delivers some bars of her own.
"Okay, got this OJ and Jose / Mixed it up with that Rose / We gon' do this our own way / Alright, okay / What is it that you're smoking? / Piece it up with this peace and love / And this peace and love like the old days."
In short, Jhene Aiko continues to amaze. The only true downside of Sail Out is that it isn't long enough. The beats are beautifully crafted, and each of the guest verses are spot on. We're looking forward to what she has in store.
(Read all the words to Sail Out at gotbars.com.)