Certain up-and-coming artists characterize each generation, and one female artist has been in the spotlight lately. Her name is Jhené Aiko, and though she may not be a mainstream artist yet, with “yet” being the keyword, she is making her mark on the R&B music genre. “Souled Out”, her debut studio album released on Sept. 9 has already sold 70,000 copies. Ranking #3 on the charts in sales, “Souled Out” is quickly storming the nation.
The album kicks off with a soulful song titled “Limbo, Limbo, Limbo,” and Aiko immediately drowns listeners’ ears with a voice which seems to be derived from a siren. Her melodious voice draws fans in from the get-go. Transitions between songs mirror that of a well-written book. The transitions are utilized so brilliantly that listeners can barely tell when one song begins and another ends. “There’s really no end, there’s really no beginning,” a quote from the song “W.A.Y.S.” captures the essence of the album in one line. It’s extremely similar to A Tribe Called Quest’s second studio album titled “The Low End Theory” from the 1990’s in that both albums as a whole seem to be one long song. It’s like a narrative is being told through the beats, rhymes and soulful lyrics.
Aiko blends her musical knowledge with her love for poetry and freestyle to mash this album into one uniform piece of art. The album is composed primarily of Aiko’s diverse voice singing to the beats produced by a variety of producers including the likes of Dot Da Genius and No I.D. The lyrics of each song were written almost entirely by Aiko. Though Aiko’s song “To Love & Die” utilizes lyrics from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s song “Many Men (Wish Death)” from his studio album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”, “Souled Out” is comprised of unique lyrics from Aiko’s poetic verses. The album features Cocaine 80’s on the song “To Love & Die” along with Miyagi and Namiko on the song “Promises,” and the album concludes with “Pretty Bird (Freestyle)” featuring Common. The conclusion of “Souled Out” with Aiko’s storytelling and Common’s deep, soothing voice leaves listeners satisfied. “Pretty Bird (Freestyle)” has such variation in vocal content and beat that it feels like the culmination of the album was fittingly placed on this song.
“Souled Out” by Jhene Aiko liberates the minds of listeners. It broadens minds and its subtle diversity in songs lends to the album’s unification as a whole. Each song is a chapter of the story and without listening to all of them in order, one can’t get the whole truth of the story. The story’s beauty is only rivaled by the album’s beautiful cover artwork. It’s a unique R&B album and Aiko’s talents haven’t been blundered in this piece of art. “Souled Out” by Jhene Aiko deserves a 4/5 star rating and with that a listen is recommended too.