Jhene Aiko isn’t afraid to get personal. Most of her catalog is deeply honest, confessional-style writing about first-hand experiences and inner-thoughts. That style lets fans forge strong personal connections to her, and it also gives her the reputation of being rather serious. This explains why the GRAMMY-nominated Def Jam singer shocked some fans with lyrics from her featured verse on Omarion’s “Post to Be,” also featuring Chris Brown, where she instructed, “Might let your boy chauffeur me, but he got to eat the booty like groceries.”
Bearing the burden of being the “serious one” can be exhausting. After pouring her heart and soul into an EP nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and touring with atmospheric goddesses Willow Smith, SZA, and the Internet, Aiko is ready to start showing her playful side. The California singer opened up on the set of Pepsi’s new Out of the Blue campaign, for which she is the face. She shared some love for her longtime friend Big Sean, verbalized what was so special about touring with a group of women songwriters, and explained her thinking behind the now-infamous booty line. Read the interview below and watch the video for Pepsi’s Out of the Blue campaign also featuring Charli XCX and Fall Out Boy.
Are you on Big Sean’s Album?
I will let Sean tell you if I am or not. But I can definitely tell you that I’m supporting it.
You’re a big fan?
Big fan, big friend too. He’s one of probably my favorite people that I’ve met during this whole journey of being a singer.
What makes him a good friend?
He just has a very good spirit, and he has great energy. Especially now that I’m meeting more and more people, you meet the people that just give you the wrong vibes, or you can just tell they’re so into themselves and it’s annoying. But from the moment I met Sean—he was already famous—and he just had a great spirit, and he continues to be genuine.
The group that you were on the Enter the Void Tour with seems like it would have great energy too.
Yeah, it was my first headlining tour. That was crazy already just to know that by the time I hit the stage the people that were out there were already going to be in it. I’ve been so used to performing before these big acts like Drake. It was really cool to have my own show. With acts like the Internet and Willow [Smith] and SZA, everyone had their own unique sound, and they’re bringing their own thing. Everyone on that tour writes their own music. I feel like it was a different experience than what most tours with that many females are. Nowadays it’s a lot of dancing, extra stuff. This tour was really about connecting, and everyone skimming their personal stories. Every night was pretty much unplugged.
That’s a real powerful thing as a fan to see, especially as a woman fan. We get to see all the guys crew up on stage together often, but it’s a bit harder to find for us.
Yeah, and I think the cool thing about rap shows is that they are stripped down. You just get to watch the rapper talk to you. You don’t care if they’re doing anything crazy, you just want to sing along to the song. That’s what’s cool about this tour is that you just want to vibe out and connect with the person on stage. It’s not about anything extra, it’s just real and organic.
I’m sad I didn’t get to make it.
Well, more dates are coming! More dates soon.
The “Spotless Mind” video just came out, and it’s very personal—your ex is your co-star.
I guess all my songs are pretty personal.
Where did that idea come from?
I love Wes Anderson, and I had this idea before I knew I wanted it to be in Wes Anderson’s style. For me, throughout the day I’m going crazy in my head. I’m trying to pick the personality that really lines up with how I feel. I wanted to show that with that song and in that video because that’s me. I used my child’s father, because we’re great friends, and he gets it probably more than anybody. He gets that I’m really like that, and that’s real life. He was great in it because his reactions were priceless.
I wanted it to be funny. People take everything I do so seriously. They’re like—you’re so sad all the time, and that’s not true! I feel like if you listen to all the music, you’ll know that there’s a variety of things. With the song and the video I wanted to show that I am a spectrum of crazy things.
And part of that is funny! Speaking of which—let’s talk about the booty line in the Omarion and Chris Brown song you’re on, “Post to Be.”
Yes! I’m glad you asked about this. When I got the song, obviously I’ve known Omarion since even before he was in B2K. I loved the song, and of course I said, yes, that I wanted to do it. Just playing with the rhyme scheme. The line of “’Post to be” reminded me of the Kevin Gates Vines where he’s talking about booty. I sat down with Micah Powell, who is a writer I’ve worked with for a long time. I sat down with him, and I was like, “Whatever we say, I really want to say something about eating the booty.” He keeps saying in the Vines—“You ’posed to eat the booty.”
This song was really funny and fun. I didn’t really think about it too hard. I really take my time when I write. With this, I was like, let’s just have fun. I didn’t know that it was going to be so popular. People take it different ways. Some people are appalled, some people think it’s funny. I feel like it’s a fun song. It’s not meant to play at anyone’s wedding or funeral.
Life is too short to be anal.
Is there anything in your life that’s too sacred to laugh at?
No. I think that’s the secret to a happy life, to be able to laugh at everything. Life is too short to be anal. Haha, anal. But it’s not too serious. A lot of times when I’m writing it’s to express myself and my music, and just let go of things that are really bothering me. I’ve let go of a lot of things. Right now I’m really just about transitioning into having fun, letting that carefree side of me show.
If you could make any impossible thing possible, what would that thing be?
I would definitely go on a date with Tupac and talk to him, just really see where it goes. Work on a song with him.
What would you wear?
I don’t know, just something comfortable. I probably wouldn’t wear one of my Tupac sweatshirts though. That might freak him out.