Album Review | Jhene Aiko – Chilombo

Jhené Aiko’s ‘Chilombo’ Claims No. 1 on Top R&B Albums Chart.

Spring season is usually a pretty good indicator of what tunes will dominate the music airwaves in time for the summer. Because of this, artists are usually determined to find ways to put their best foot forward in making an impression early on. While April and May will surely provide us with closer indicators to song of the summer contenders, with my pick being unreleased music from Rihanna coming sooner than later, her fellow Pisces sister has graced fans with some new tunes. The ever mellow sounds of Jhene Aiko have returned to streaming services with what many are considering her most cohesive set to date.

“Chilombo” comes on the heels of what appears to be a much happier version of the R&B artist. Recently back together with former boyfriend Big Sean, and a proud parent, Aiko has plenty to talk about these days. While her 2018 release was widely praised from most critics, many wondered if she had the ability to do it again and release a full set of new tunes that would prove infectious and trendy to audiences. Her response provides a fairly solid next step and new chapter into what has been an interesting musical journey since 2013.

Known for her agile, yet tender and soft voice, Aiko is by no means a powerhouse vocalist. To her credit, she never really strives to be one, except for her attempt at belting alongside John Legend (who is a powerhouse vocalist) on the album’s track “Lightning and Thunder”. Perhaps the only other strong questionable decision made on the album is its’ closer, “Party for Me”, featuring Ty Dolla Sign. Here, the track doesn’t at all appear to be a track that should be shoved to the back of the setlist, but rather be placed elsewhere higher up in the sequencing.

As is the case with many of her releases, the album’s track listing is impeccable. The transitions from track to track tell a story of an artist kicking into her higher gear. The album’s standouts, however, come quite heavy. The first is the second track of the opus, “Triggered (Freestyle)”, which features raw emotion perhaps felt straight from a session and into the booth. The same could be said for the groovy sounds of “Tryna Smoke” and “One Way St.”. The album’s finest work, however, relies on what appears to be its two most popular songs. The album’s first single, “P*$$y Fairy”, is a complete radio and bedroom banger that slaps on any speaker you put it onto. Its follow-up single, “Happiness Over Anything (H.O.E.”, features two men who are familiar with chart success in Miguel and Future. 

With proper promotion and music video landscaping, there’s no denying the potential that this album could have for Aiko going into the summer. If you’re looking for a high octane upbeat or extremely vocal record, you may be both in the wrong decade and the wrong discography. If you’re looking for more mellow vibes and sentimental reflection, this could be the record for you. A peaceful listen from an otherwise peaceful woman equates a winning formula. Chill on, Jhene. 

March 19, 2020

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