Mila J performing in 2018
Jamila Akiko Aba Chilombo
November 18, 1983
Jamila Akiko Aba Chilombo, known as Mila J (born November 18, 1983), is an American singer, songwriter, rapper and dancer. She is the older sister of R&B singer Jhéne Aiko and is known for being in Prince's video for "Diamonds and Pearls" and appearing on tracks by RaRa, IMx, Trey Songz and Omarion. She released several singles in 2006–2009 under the name "Mila J" and then went on a hiatus for a number of years after the shelving of her original debut studio album, Split Personality, before returning as "Japallonia" in 2012 and then reverting to Mila J.
She was signed to Motown from 2013 to 2017 and released two EPs, "M.I.L.A." (2014) and "213" (2016) while signed to them. In 2017 she released two more EPs, "Dopamine" and "11.18". Mila is now an independent artist.
Jamila was born and raised in Ladera Heights, Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Christina Yamamoto, an art teacher and Dr. Karamo Chilombo (born Gregory Wycliff Barnes), a musician and pediatrician. Her parents later divorced. Her sister is singer Jhené Aiko.
In the start of her career, Mila J joined an up-and-coming dance group, bringing her to the attention of Chris Stokes. Through Stokes, Mila auditioned for and starred as a dancer in Prince's "Diamonds and Pearls" video, released in 1991. Stokes had begun managing Jamila and her sister Miyoko and eventually led them to form the American R&B group Gyrl. The group began touring with R&B group Immature, which at the time was signed to MCA/Silas Records.
Gyrl's members were Jamila, Miyoko and Paulette Maxwell. While they were backup dancers for Immature, the group's name was Innocence. As backup dancers, they appeared in music videos such as "Da Munchies", "Constantly", the remix to "Constantly", and "I Don't Mind". In 1995, Silas Records has released Gyrl's official debut single, "Play Another Slow Jam". The song peaked at number 74 on the US Hot R&B Singles, staying on the chart for over six weeks, but did not chart on the US Billboard Hot 100. After the release of their debut single, Paulette left the group. In 1997, Glorika "Jeanae'" Briley and Tai-Amber Hoo later joined Gyrl, and released the single "Get Your Groove On", featured in the movie B*A*P*S. This single peaked at number 91 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 30 on the US Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for over 14 weeks, becoming their highest chart appearance at that time. After that, the group disbanded.
In 2005, Mila was a member of another girl group, Dame Four, with Tomasina Parrot, Tennille Mathis and Mercedes Nelson, who released the single "How We Roll". Dame Four split up soon thereafter.
In the early 2000s Mila took a hiatus from the music industry, saying that due to having been in a variety of girl groups, she did not know who she was as an artist. During her hiatus, Mila said, "I definitely think I was able to really figure out who I was as a solo artist and what I wanted to talk about, what I wanted to address—be myself, basically. It was a break because I was in the industry for a minute."
2006–2013: Split Personality debut
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After appearing on tracks by RaRa, IMx, and Omarion, Jamila was set to release a 2006 solo album Split Personality under the name Mila J but it was shelved. The album featured a number of appearances from artists on the T.U.G. roster, including proteges and its associates, such as Marques Houston, Young Rome, Rufus Blaq, and The Underdogs. She performed two songs, "Complete" and "I'm Mi", from the unreleased album during Showtime at the Apollo.
In 2012 Jamila redefined herself, changing her name and appearance from the soft feminine Mila J to the rough-around-the-edges Japallonia. She released a mixtape for free download through DatPiff, supported by a music video, "Blinded". The mixtape received more than 700,000 downloads. She released her "Movin On" music video with VEVO and gave away the single for free on her website and VEVO page.
2014–present: Return to music, M.I.L.A & full-length LP
Once again billing herself as Mila J, she released her first single, "Smoke, Drink, Break-Up" with the music video premiering on BET's 106 & Park. The single peaked at #33 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. On May 28, she performed the song at BET's 106 & Park. After the lead single release, she was featured on Trey Songz's Trigga on the song "Disrespectful" and several other projects. She was working on the album M.I.L.A., which stands for Made In Los Angeles. She said the album will have a 1990s vibe and contains a lot of relationship-based songs such as "Pain in My Heart" and "Times Like These". B.o.B, Ty Dolla Sign, Problem are some of the features mentioned on this project. On August 27, she premiered the lyric video of her second single, "My Main", produced by DJ Mustard and featuring Ty Dolla $ign, on her YouTube channel.
In 2015, Mila was featured on Jodeci's album The Past, The Present, The Future with a track titled "Body Parts". Mila collaborated with duo BC KINGDOM on their joint EP PRESS START, experimenting withnsounds unlike her previous work. Her stage name briefly changed to MILA. Critics called the EP "melancholically dark and edgy" and a "Summer's love jam" for the fans. On June 10, she reverted her stage name back to Mila J and premiered a new single, "FreakNic", off her upcoming untitled debut full-length LP. She released her second mixtape, The Waiting Game, on November 12, 2015.
In 2017, she left Motown record label and became independent. On April 7, 2017 she released a 13-track EP, "Dopamine". She is working on her debut studio album.
Mila has cited Janet Jackson as her main inspiration. She went on to say "I just love how she entertains," said Mila of the pop icon. "You go to her shows, she’s gon’ have a million dancers—lights, camera, action. It was just cool to see a female dancing and singing." Mýa and Brandy are also huge inspirations to Mila.
- Split Personality (2006) (officially unreleased)
- Made in L.A. (2014) (EP)
- 213 (2016) (EP)
- MILAULONGTIME (2017) (EP)
- Dopamine (2017) (EP)
- 11.18 (2017) (EP)
- January 2018 (2018) (EP)
- February 2018 (2018) (EP)
- March 2018 (2018) (EP)
- April 2018 (2018) (EP)
- May 2018 (2018) (EP)
- June 2018 (2018) (EP)
- July 2018 (2018) (EP)
- August 2018 (2018) (EP)
- September 2018 (2018) (EP)
- October 2018 (2018) (EP)
- November 2018 (2018) (EP)
- December 2018 (2018) (EP)
- Biography. projectmilaj.com
- Mila J. Biography. Billboard
- "Through ups and downs and forgotten girl groups, R&B singer Mila J is still standing tall". December 20, 2017 – via LA Times.
- "KayKi Speaks with Jhene Aiko- Her road to now, incredible new mixtape, & more". KayKiSpeaks.com. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Mila J on Growing Up Mixed & Collaborating With Sis Jhene Aiko". Complex. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
- "Mila J Talks New Album, New Deal & Little Sis Jhene Aiko". Vibe. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
- Rare and Obscure Music: Gyrl. musicrareobscure.blogspot.com.br. May 20, 2012[unreliable source?]
- Brittany Lewis (March 26, 2014) Mila J On Jhene Aiko: "People Are Always Going To Create Sibling Rivalry & There Is None" (EXCLUSIVE). Global Grind
- "Mila J". AllMusic. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- "Pop/R&B Artist Japallonia to Drop First Album in 2012". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- Rap-Up TV: Mila J Talks Debut, Influences, & Musical Family. Rap-Up TV. April 22, 2014
- Mila J-My Main Lyric Video. YouTube. August 26, 2014
- "Mila J Rolls Out Her New Mixtape, 'The Waiting Game'". November 12, 2015.
- "Mila J new music". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved June 1, 2016.