Jhené Aiko and the Song Your Girlfriend Sings
Jhené Aiko brings a counterbalance to the conversation in hip-hop on relationships.
Words: Emma Pollin / Photo: Brandon Herman / December 13, 2013
Jhené Aiko wants her voice heard in hip-hop, and not just in the background on male artists’ tracks. 2013’s charting single “From Time” teamed Jhené with Drake for a duet of smooth ambivalence loved for its unique sound, one Jhené helped craft as singer and writer. Aiko’s feminine strength and wisdom beyond her years are subtly reshaping the rap landscape.
You don’t often hear straight-up love songs nowadays. Artists are too cool for You’re mine baby/I love you old-timey stuff. Everything has to be complicated, flippant, vengeful, sexual, ambivalent. Drake is undisputed king of complicated, flippant, vengeful, sexual, ambivalent sorta-love songs. He excels at hyperanalytic relationship talk. He seems to spend ungodly amounts of time ruminating on woulda-couldas and past flames, which I find endearing and relatable. “From Time” is easily his best riff on this theme, with his neurotics calmed by understated piano and the placid voice of Jhené Aiko.
Listen to “From Time” from Drake’s Nothing Was The Same
In classic Drizzy form, he begins by worrying: I needed to hear that shit/I hate when you’re submissive/Passive aggressive/When we’re textin I feel the distance. He packs two verses with reflections on money, music, his parents, his doubters, his internal strife and, of course, the ladies. The ladies missed out. As he assonantly puts it: What qualities was I lookin for before/Who you settlin for/Who better for you than the boy (hah)? Aiko matches his sophistication, but pares her words down to offset the Drizzy verbosity. She etches her hook like a cursive engraving, singing simply, I love me, and then, I love me enough for the both of us. She slips in among Drake’s bursts of words with soothing assurance. He can be all over the place; it’s cool. She’ll be right here, steady loving herself. It’s not quite a love song, but it does sound good.
Jhené Aiko is currently touring.