|Released||March 16, 2011|
|Genre||Alternative R&B, neo soul|
|Producer||K. Roosevelt, Fisticuffs, J.LBS, Bei Maejor, Tae Beast|
|Jhené Aiko chronology|
Sailing Soul(s) (stylized as sailing soul(s)) is the debut mixtape by American singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko; it was released on March 16, 2011. Aiko began working on the mixtape after she gave birth to her daughter, Aiko wrote all the mixtape's songs except "July," which was written by Micah Powell. Most songs on the mixtape were produced by Fisticuffs, except “July” and “You vs Them” which were produced by Bei Maejor, “Real Now” which was produced by Roosevelt, “Do Better” which was produced by J. Lbs and “Growing Apart” which was produced by Tae Beast. The mixtape featured several guest vocalists, including Miguel, Drake, Gucci Mane, and Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar as well as others.
Critically the mixtape received positive reviews, with reviewers saying that the mixtape was one of the "freshest", another reviewer said that the mixtape is making "Noise in the R&B spectrum". The concept follows the story of Aiko having a meeting with a label and she was told by people at the label "I love everything but when you come into these meetings you have to sell yourself." After the meeting Jhene came up with the concept "I’m not a slave to anyone; I’m sailing my soul instead of selling it."
To promote the mixtape Aiko was joined by Grammy-nominated R&B singer Miguel on a one off free secret tour on Sunday, July 15. The free tickets were given away at the Key Club box office on July 6 from 11AM-5PM on a first-come, first-served basis while. The concert started 7:00pm and finished as 9:30pm, lasting a duration of two and a half hours. On October 21, 2012 Aiko released a music video for the song "My Mine". Jhene also released a video for the mixtapes second track "Stranger". Datpiff certified the mixtape Platinum with downloads of 300,000 and an additional 31,000 downloads from MixtapeMonkey.com.
In 2002, Jhené made her musical beginning when she featured on several B2K, she featured on tracks 5 through 8 on B2K's B2K: The Remixes - Volume 1, "My Name Is Jhene (Intro)", "He Couldn't Kiss (Album Version)", "Gonna Love You Anyway (Snippet)", and "Stuck Like This (Snippet)". "Santa Baby", a cover she recorded, was featured on B2K's Santa Hooked Me Up. are sung by her. On Pandemonium!, she was featured as a guest vocalist on the song "Tease", and her song "Dog" appeared as a bonus track on B2K's "Pandemonium". The full version of "Stuck Like This" can be heard as the final track on The Remixes - Volume 2. Jhené has appeared in numerous music videos including O'Ryan's debut video, "Take It Slow", B2K's debut video Uh Huh and "Why I Love You", P.Y.T.'s Same Ol' Same Ol' (Remix) featuring Sarai, Play's "M.A.S.T.E.R. (Part 2)" featuring Lil' Fizz video and Morgan Smith's 2004 video Blow Ya Whistle. Jhené also has songs featured on the soundtracks of "Barbershop", "The Master of Disguise", "You Got Served", "The Proud Family" and "Byou". She released a video for her single "NO L.O.V.E" which debuted on BET 106 & Park when she was 15 years old. Jhene was set to release her self-titled debut album but the album was never released due to tension at the record label Epic, in which Aiko asked to be released from the label. Aiko then began to focus on school. Later at the age of 20, Aiko became pregnant by American R&B singer O'Ryan and gave birth to a baby girl named Namiko Love Browner on 19 November 2008.
After Aiko gave birth to her daughter, six months later she began to work and develop on the mixtape. Aiko stated that she was going through trouble at this period in her life saying "At the time I was going through so much in my life that it was so easy to write the songs. I had just had a baby and I was dealing with baby father issues and I had a boyfriend. The songs were just coming and coming. I just had so much to say, and when I was signed, I never really got a chance to write my own music. I always wanted to do a mixtape and before I got pregnant I was about to get back into it ‘cause I was working with different producers and things like that. Fisticuffs, who produced the majority of sailing soul(s), I’ve known them for a while and worked with them on different projects. So yeah, the concepts were just coming and it only took about nine months to complete".
All the songs on the mixtape were written by Aiko, except “July” which was written by Micah Powell and most of the songs were produced by Fisticuffs, except “July” and “You vs Them” which were produced by Bei Maejor, “Real Now” which was produced by Roosevelt, “Do Better” which was produced by J. Lbs and “Growing Apart” which was produced by Tae Beast. The album's artwork was shot by photographer Jay 3. The mixtape also features collaborations from Miguel, Drake and Kanye West as well as others. In 2011, she also began working closely with artists from Carson-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment.
Aiko described the concept of this mixtape during an interview with Vibe Magazine, in which she said "The concept came from the meeting right before I found out I was pregnant. I had a meeting with this label head and at this point I had done so many meetings. I had been doing it for like five years, and I was excited to have the meeting, but it wasn’t hype. I was going to go in there and be myself, I’m not going to really care. I wore a little bit of makeup and I dressed how I would dress. Went in there, sang for them, did the whole meeting thing and he was like, ‘I love your voice, I love everything but when you come into these meetings you have to sell yourself.’ I was just speechless when he said that, and I have no filter when it comes to speaking my mind so I bit my tongue so hard. I wanted to say, ‘No! I don’t have to sell myself. I am me.’ You like me or you don’t. After that, I found out I was pregnant and I was on Twitter one day and said something about selling your soul, but I spelled it wrong and Chase N. Cashe corrected me. I put “sailing souls” and he said, ‘Oh, that would be a nice name for an album.” And everything started happening after that. Definitely the whole “sailing souls” thing. A lot of people are still confused about what that means, and it just means to stay true to yourself and go with what you feel. Feeling are really the only thing that is real. I kinda want to convey the message to just be yourself. Don’t ever lose yourself for whatever reason—because you want to make more money, because you want to be prettier or whatever. I’m not a slave to anyone; I’m sailing my soul instead of selling it."
Music and lyrics
In an interview Aiko described the music and her style on the mixtape saying "Honestly, I don’t think it fits in and I think that’s why it stands out. It’s about what I’m saying. It’s a marriage [with] real music. Fisticuffs, they don’t use any samples and they use live instruments a lot of the times in their beats, so I would go in there and I would be singing and they would be making the track. It was like a complete marriage of sound. I wouldn’t write anything down, just sing it on the mic and come up with everything off the top of my head. I feel like it doesn’t have to sound like anything that’s on the radio to be good music".
Sailing Souls opening track last for a duration of eight-second which features a "sped up, reversed intro", that then is followed by the album's second song “Stranger”, which lyrically talks of a "woman going through similar issues of the heart, but seemingly with different men". “Hoe” is produced by Fisticuffs, and features a "steady drum beat", the song also includes guest vocals from Miguel and Gucci Mane. The fourth track "July", features vocals from rapper Drake, which has "a lighter feel on production and a simple, repetitive piano chord". “My Mine,” used the topic Cannabis as metaphor for love.
“Sailing NOT selling,” featuring a verse from Kanye West, lyrically the song "attack a hot topic in music right now". Do Better Blues,” which was produced by J.LBS talks about "the fearful truth to an ex, saying she is probably NOT better off without him". “Higher” is described as a crazy, "sexy, cool song" with suggestive lyrics in regards to Cannabis, “Break me down/Roll me up/Boy I can be your pipe dream”. “You vs. Them,” is described as "hauntingly beautiful song", that lyrically describes "the apprehension of getting into a relationship, of which, she may be referring to a person or God". "Space Jam" Aiko wrote on the subject of when she found out her brother had been diagnosed with cancer.
Sailing Soul(s) received critical acclaim from music critics. SoulCulture.co.uk praised the album calling it one of the "freshest" mixtapes saying "As R&B mixtapes go, this has to be one of the freshest out in a long time, especially considering there have been a constant flow from male rappers. The tracks are predominantly chilled out, the production is on point from start to finish and as well as the collaborations from the big dogs, there are also solid features from little known rappers HOPE, Roosevelt and Lite". Rap-Up.com also praised the album saying it made "Noise in the R&B spectrum" saying the following "Drake, Miguel, and Kendrick Lamar all showed up on the effort, which mixed her sensually sweet voice with hip-hop-centric beats".
Gstylemag.com reviewed the album positively saying "Usually when you think smooth flow with slow to mid tempo songs you think nap time but this album definitely kept my attention and there was not any point that I felt the urge to fast forward. I did find myself repeating the song Hoe feat Miguel and Gucci Mane more than others at times. Each artist added just the right amount of flavor to the song to make it work and were careful not to outshine each other. The lyrics are what mostly gets me about this song-it’s a song about an aggressive female that knows what she wants but doesn’t want to give the guy the impression that that’s how she usually gets down. It is sung from both the female and male perspective and it doesn’t degrade or disrespect as the title or the worlds “Feat Gucci Mane” may suggest."
One reviewer said "This mixtape is amazing, it showcase's Jhene's beautiful voice and heartfelt lyrics (she wrote every song.) This mixtape gives me the same feeling I got when I 1st heard Drake's mixtape "So Far Gone." I believe that every woman can relate to Jhene in 1 way or another. I connect with her music because I am an emotional woman who loves love & honesty and this mixtape leaves me wanting to hear more from Jhene Aiko."
|1.||"The Beginning"||Jhené Aiko||Fisticuffs||0:09|
|3.||"Hoe" (featuring Miguel & Gucci Mane)||Aiko, Miguel Pimentel, Radric Davis||Fisticuffs||3:38|
|4.||"July" (featuring Drake)||Micah Powell, Aubrey Graham||Bei Maejor||3:59|
|7.||"Real Now" (featuring Lite, H.O.P.E. & K. Roosevelt)||Aiko, Marquis "H.O.P.E." Wright, Kevin Roosevelt||K. Roosevelt||4:21|
|8.||"Sailing NOT Selling" (featuring Kanye West)||Aiko, Kanye West||Fisticuffs||3:01|
|9.||"Do Better Blues" (with H.O.P.E.)||Aiko, Wright||J.LBS||4:14|
|11.||"You vs Them"||Aiko, Birdsong||Bei Maejor||3:25|
|13.||"Growing Apart Too" (featuring Kendrick Lamar & H.O.P.E.)||Aiko, Kendrick Duckworth, Wright||Tae Beast||3:24|
- Sampling credits
- "Hoe" incorporates lyrics from "Pretty Girls" as performed by Wale.
- "Popular" samples lyrics from "Wanksta" as performed by 50 Cent.
- "Sailing NOT Selling" incorporates lyrics from "Eyez Closed" as performed by Snoop Dogg.
|Worldwide||March 16, 2011||Online / Digital download||Independent|
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