With her Souled Out album scheduled to be released on Tuesday (September 9), Jhene Aiko stopped by Hot 97 and spoke about the release. During the interview, Aiko broke down one of the album’s tracks, “Promises,” and its significance as a dedication to her daughter and deceased brother.
“It’s something I wanted to leave her, if we’re not together for any reason, just something she could always listen to, even when she gets older,” Aiko said of the song’s relevance to her daughter. “It’s just about letting her know that everything will be okay even if I can’t always be there. The second verse is to my brother who passed away two years ago. Singing to him, letting him know that I’m okay, that he’ll never have to worry about me.”
Jhene went on to speak further on her brother’s passing, explaining the inspiration behind a social media hashtag she often includes in her posts.
“During his treatment he was on Twitter and he Tweeted that one day,” she said. “He was in pain, he was going through chemo and all that, he was just sort of like still positive. He was a jokester. Through all of that, it was still like, ‘Why aren’t you smiling?’ That was one of his last Tweets. I actually got it tattooed…But I wanted it to be true to life. So, yeah, ‘why aren’t you smiling?’”
“I think I’m doing pretty good,” she said of her coping with her sibling’s passing. “There’s bad days and there’s days where I understand. I really believe in energy not dying. I don’t feel like no one ever really dies. I feel like that. There’s so many things that remind me of him and just seeing how his energy is still alive, I could feel it. It’s not sad most of the time, but then of course I’m human, so there’s times where I miss certain things. It happens. That’s life.”
“I met Donald right after I did Jimmy Kimmel the first time with Big Sean,” she said. “We had the same publisher. His close friend and business partner was really close friends with my brother. He basically set up that we would have dinner. But it was like a dinner after Kimmel, everyone that was there came. We just met and talked about working together on music. I needed a verse for ‘Bed Peace’ and no one was sending me verses back. I was like, ‘I actually have a song.’ I wasn’t really well versed in his music but my oldest sister is a fan. After we worked together on that, he was super willing to understand the music. He was so into it. His creative mind is something I can respect. He directed my new video, ‘The Pressure.’ I’m in his new video that is not out yet, ‘Telegraph.’ We come up with really creative things together. He has an interesting mind.”
Speaking about her work relationship with Drake, Jhene admitted to knowing him as a Degrassi actor first.
“We met through Jas Prince,” she said. “I was signed to Sony Epic, which B2K was signed to. And I opened up the Scream tour and I hosted it when I was like 14. I met Jas at one of the shows, and ever since then we were friends. He ended up wanting to work with me on the mixtape, So Far Gone. I knew him from Degrassi because my boyfriend at the time, his little sister watched it. They’re like, ‘Yeah, he’s a rapper now.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, cool.’ I went in, I was pregnant at the time, but I wasn’t letting anyone know. My friend came in to write for me ‘cause at the time I wasn’t really giving my energy into other people’s music. If it was like a feature, I was like, ‘Okay, someone else can write it ‘cause I have to save the good stuff for myself.’ That’s how I was looking at it but now I don’t look at it like that. In that session he heard a song called ‘July.’ He decided to take the verses off and just leave my hook…Fast forward to him working on Nothing Was The Same, he DM’ed like, ‘We should work on a song together for real’ since he heard the mixtape. We got in the studio. Me, him, and 40 picked out a track, I took it home, wrote to it, sent it. Then he wrote to it.”
Speaking on both rappers, Aiko said “loving people is different than being in love with them.”
“That’s what it is,” she added. “It’s easy for me to love a person because loving is understanding them. Understanding means you’re just taking the time to get to know them and listen to their stories and accept them. It’s easy to just be like, ‘I love you. I love who you are.’ But to really say, ‘I’m in love with you’ is different.”