Fuse is celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History before our eyes. Today we are honoring Jhené Aiko, who continues to bring a fresh sound to R&B.
We were first introduced to the singer in the early '00s, where the then-teenager lent her chirpy vocals to a handful of B2K songs. Aiko (who has a mixed ethnic background of Japanese, Black, Spanish and Native American) later stepped out of the boy band shadow and emerged as her own solo artist with her debut mixtape—2011's Sailing Soul(s). Rather than giving us the processed urban-pop sound that many expected, Aiko displayed her innate artistry with a fusion of neo-soul, alternative R&B, electronica, pop, folk and hip-hop.
"The greatest lesson is to let go of your ego. Let the e...go so you can free flow. It's super easy to get caught up in who you are and who you're becoming and what you're obtaining," Aiko, who always stays true to herself, tells us in the interview above. "But that the end of the day, everyone dies and no one gets to take anything with them but their soul and their energy. So I've just learned to keep my feet on the ground and not feed into the hype even if it's my own."
Now 29, she has since released other projects including 2013's Sail Out EP, her 2014 Souled Out debut album and the impressive TWENTY88 collaborative LP with Big Sean (released last April). While there are many women trying to make their mark on R&B, Aiko stands out among the genre thanks to her tender, often gripping vocals, unfiltered passion and anger, intense lyric imagery and a sense of pure vulnerability that makes her so relatable. But don't mistake her for being cemented in just R&B!
Aiko has recently collaborated with The Chainsmokers on “Wake Up Alone” from their debut album Memories... Do Not Open and Cashmere Cat on “Plz Don’t Go” for his debut 9 LP. She's also branching out to try new things aside from music, teaming up with outerwear company Teva for the second time. The pair worked on a capsule collection featuring three kinds of shoes that reflect Aiko's cool-girl style.
From her music to being a loving mother to her daughter Namiko and inspiring young women with motivational Instagram messages, Jhené Aiko shows no signs of slowing down. Keep your eyes peeled for what else she has planned up her sleeve, which will surely secure her place in the future of music and Asian/Pacific history.
Tune in to Fuse and come back to Fuse.tv every day for profiles, videos, galleries and more on the individuals around the world who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History. Join the conversation with #FutureHistory and find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder. Next, throw it back to 2013 where Jhene Aiko breaks down her influences, her signature "Bed Peace" single and the Sail Out EP: