Jhené Aiko's latest project, Sail Out, is streaming today—and she's celebrating its release with the video for "The Worst" above.
Jhené Aiko entire prescence is enticing. You'll see it in the video above. You'll hear it on her latest project, Sail Out. Strikingly gorgeous, the 25-year-old polyethnic beauty, whose lineage includes African American, Japanese and Native American descent, has an ethereal yet disarming nature. Soft-spoken without forgoing conviction, she straddles the line between good girl and sexpot. She posts inspirational Buddhist quotes on her Tumblr and plays mom to daughter Namiko but concurrently, is completely open about her penchant for good weed, vaporizers and afternoon sex.
This allure has no doubt played a role in Jhené’s rapid career ascent over the past year or so. In step with her new Sail Out EP, the Los Angeles native has quickly becomeyour favorite rapper’s favorite singer, sharing bars alongside Big Sean (“Beware”) and Drake (“From Time”). She recently joined Drake’s Would You Like A Tour? alongside Miguel and Future, too. And did we mention she makes Childish Gambino nervous in bed? Just watch the visual for "Bed Peace,” in which the duo recreates John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous “bed-ins,” for proof.
Vice met up with with Jhené last week at New York City’s MSR Studios to talk about her latest project Sail Out, smoking vapes with Childish Gambino, and touring alongside Drake. Unlike Gambino, we didn’t have to get completely stoned just to be around her…not that we would have minded.
Noisey: Why does Childish Gambino look so nervous in “Bed Peace”?
Jhené Aiko: We were HIGH. There’s a part in the video where we pass the vape. It’s called a Pax and it’s a very discrete vaporizer. You can’t even see the vapes. It was really funny because I had drinks out for all the extras, smoking. We were just having a lot of fun. He gets like that when he’s high. [Laughs]. We were both being very awkward. After we hit that couple of times, we were like, “We’re in bed together all day? Wait a minute.”
You two are friends in real life though.
Yeah, but we’ve never been in bed together.
True. So are you a vape girl?
I like weed. There was a part of my life where I wake and baked but right now, I don’t smoke every day. I think I’m becoming more of a responsible adult. I had a G-Pen at one point. I go through phases. Now, I like this vaporizer but you put the weed in there so it’s not the wax. I’ve also gone back to papers, like raw papers. Literally I can smoke three days ago and feel a little high. My tolerance right now is really low.
Ever had a bad trip?
Yeah. I only smoke sativa now. When I was younger, I’d only smoke indica and I would be super paranoid. Everyone, even people I was comfortable with, would turn into “I don’t know if she’s really my friend? Are the cops gonna come right now? What was that light in sky?” I had stopped smoking and one day, I smoked with a friend and I was like, “Why was I so happy?” and he was like “Oh. This is sativa. I must go get a medical marijuana card!”
What was the “medical condition” you put on your application?
It was a real reason. I have slight scoliosis so my back always hurts. Um, insomnia, but who doesn’t? Sativa keeps you up anyways so that doesn’t really matter. And depression.
I didn’t know about the depression. Have you talked about that openly?
Just in songs. Yeah.
I feel you. Changing gears, how is it being the only girl on Drake’s Would You Like A Tour with Future and Miguel?
It’s cool. I don’t do a lot of the social stuff because I’m an old lady at heart.
“Social stuff” meaning helping them get girls after the show… ?
Exactly. [Laughs] So I mean, it’s fun. They’re all silly boys, like “Oh. You guys are crazy!” There are women that travel with the tour like Drake’s vocal coach, and there’s a tailor. Older women. We kind of bond like, “Anybody got the Midol?” They’re not used to that, so they like having a young girl around. Me and my road manager don’t like going out so [the boys] say, “You guys don’t like us. You don’t have fun with us.” No, that’s just not our thing. Like what are we gonna do? We’re not going to be your wing girls. You know how boys are. They flirt with everyone. We’re the consistent ones then they bring girls around and we’re like, “Oh see! Exactly.” What if we were taking you guys seriously?
Do you find male or female groupies more aggressive?
The female fans are more hardcore at approaching me like “Oh. Can I kiss you?” “Sign my boobs.” The guys are more… Sometimes I don’t know if they’re trying to talk to me or if they know who I am, like “Can I get your number?” I’m like, “Am I just a regular girl right now or?” I don’t know.
It sounds like dating is harder for you now.
It’s always been hard for me. I either don’t know what type I’m supposed to go for—I don’t really have a type---or I don’t know when someone likes me. Then it’ll be like, “Oh you like me?! I’m not your type.” It’s hard to know what people want from you period. I don’t know. It’s weird. You don’t have to be a rapper or something. If I’m compatible with you, I’m like, “Oh my God! We’re compatible! We should be in love!” More recently, guys say, “I don’t’ want you to write a song about me. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Who would say “I don’t want you to write a song about me?"
[Sighs] Yeah. My whole thing is, once I know it’s not gonna progress… I like having fun but at the same time, I don’t have time. I have a child. I have other stuff to focus on. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.
Have you ever dated a loser just for the musical inspiration?
I’m never afraid to get into a situation even when I know he’s bad for me. When I’m going through it, I’m not thinking it’s going to make a great song, but when it starts happening, I know it’s cool and not the end of the world because a piece of art may come from this.
Speaking of, what's the status on Souled Out?
The album is done. Production-wise, final touches and mixing are still left. I’m always recording more songs. I’m working on the next and the next project. In my dream world, the album would come first quarter of next year. For sure, 2014 though. FOR SURE…or I’m going hoo bangin’ on somebody.
Sowmya Krishnamurthy is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Twitter - @SowmyaK