Since the start of her solo career in 2002, Jhené Aiko has been known for her raw, often autobiographical lyrics. The singer/songwriter is a fan of wordplay, unpacking what it means to have a soul (see her 2011 debut mixtape Sailing Souls and her 2014 major-label debut Souled Out) while offering her candid thoughts on sex, love, family and marijuana use.
On Thursday (March 16), Aiko celebrates her 29th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, here's a list of her 29 most unfiltered lyrics.
My Name Is Jhené (2003)
"You say 'don't be (oh) don't be tripping' (lies)/ But baby ya game is slipping (that's right)/ You're just a child and I'm big pimping/ I'm so over you" -- "No L.O.V.E."
Before she released a proper studio LP in 2014, Jhené released My Name Is Jhené, an underground record made during her indie days. Thanks to the Internet, those songs are still in existence. On this particular single that samples The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Warning" and pays homage to Jay Z, the singer calls out a wrongful ex who won't prevent her from moving on to better things.
sailing soul(s) (2011)
"If you don't get a hold of yourself/ Then you will end up with no self" -- "Sailing NOT Selling"
After leaving her past record label to pursue education full-time, Aiko returned to the music business to release her debut mixtape. "Sailing NOT Selling" warns about selling yourself out for fame -- as expressed in this line -- and features a recycled verse from another soulful critic, Kanye West.
"He told me where he comes from/ That everyone has a gun they're always at war/ I told him where I reside/ My brother is dying/ There is no cure" -- "Space Jam"
Backed by a galactic instrumental, this song reflects on the notion of opposites attracting. Aiko relates to the hardships because, at the time, her brother Miyagi was dying from cancer.
Sail Out (2013)
"I been through some sh--, man/ But I be on my sh--, man/ I decided that what you give is what you're given" -- "Stay Ready (What a Life)"
Following up her first mixtape's theme of soul-searching, the singer released her Grammy-nominated project Sail Out, making her presence known in the PBR&B scene. Here, she decides to take matters in her own hands regardless of what situation she's dealt on the standout track, which also features Kendrick Lamar.
"I am Alice/ I'm in Wonderland/ Where's the rabbit?/ He is late again/ Goodness gracious/ I can't wait for him/ Who has got the time?" - "WTH"
A big fan of double entendres and movie references, Aiko hints at being "way too high" while waiting on her lover.
"Please don't take this personal/ But you ain't sh--/ And you weren't special/ Till I made you so" -- "The Worst"
From her biggest hit on Sail Out, this line is Rihanna-level savagery well before "Needed Me" came out.
"Gotta act like I care about this fake stuff/ Straight up what a waste of my day/ If I had it my way I'd roll out of bed/ Say bout 2:30 mid-day/ Hit the blunt then, hit you up to come over to my place" -- "Bed Peace"
On this blissful melody, the singer shows her carefree side (when she has to be all about her business) and requests that her antagonist -- played by Childish Gambino, who features on the track -- enjoys some down time with her.
"And I should've never took you on a boat for your birthday/ And I should've never f---ed you on a boat on your birthday" -- "Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle)"
Aiko often hops into the studio and freestyles some of her deepest cuts over moody beats. Here, she regrets celebrating a cheater's birthday and takes shots at him so that he can recall his wrongdoing.
Souled Out (2014)
"That life only gets harder, but you gotta get stronger/ This is for my brother, I do this for my daughter" -- "W.A.Y.S."
Aiko finally released a proper debut LP after garnering acclaim for her first two mixtapes. In this motivational track, the singer talks about hustling hard in the music business to honor her late brother and start a legacy for her daughter Namiko.
"Which side? This side, you should switch sides/ On that acting like a bitch side by the way/ You need to switch sides right away" -- "To Love & Die"
With assistance from the hip-hop collective Cocaine 80s (which includes James Fauntleroy), the Slauson Hills singer shows her grittier side and constant love for West Coast hip-hop by instructing her lover to not shy away from his feelings.
"I got so used to the changes/ Moving from stranger to strangest/ You should face it/ I am crazy" -- "Spotless Mind"
The singer has said she was a fan of Jim Carrey films, particularly his dramatic, mind-altering rom-com Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. On this track, she reflects on how she's used to constantly moving and changing because it's built into her personality.
"But it's cool/ We ain't gotta be nothing/ It's true/ I'd actually prefer it, yeah/ It's on you, it's on you, it's on you"
"And I'm not even gonna front/ At first I was just tryna f---/ But you have got me so in love/ So deep in love, so please be loved" -- "It's Cool"
Aiko opts to play it cool after finding out her lover was playing with her emotions. At first, she wanted a simple hook-up but soon developed feelings. Now, she has to renege on them because they seem to be un-reciprocated.
"Mr. Serial Lover/ I wish your mother loved you like I could've/ That way you would've known how to love a woman"
"Mr. Conditional Lover/ I wish your father would've stayed/ I wish he never promised things that never did come true" -- "Lyin King"
Playing on a Disney classic in the title, "Lyin King" takes shots at a philandering love interest. In this verse, Aiko attributes a lack of parenting as the reason why her antagonist is always doing her dirty when it comes to their relationship.
"I am not perfect/ I would never let you think I was more than this" -- "Wading"
In "Wading," another play on words creeps into Aiko's songwriting as she gets reflective while using a water motif, admitting her imperfections.
"So I guess that I should mention/ That I am in no condition/ To put you in this position/ I might f--- this up" -- "Brave"
Backed by a beautiful symphony, the singer adds a more theatrical flair to her Souled Out album by taking on the role of a heroine who may be too much to handle. She salutes her lover for taking on the challenge of being with her.
"And I really do adore you/ You're getting so big now/ And you're making me so proud/ 'Cause you are such a star/ And you know that you are" -- "Promises"
Embracing motherhood, Aiko showers her daughter, Namiko, with adoration. A recording of Namiko's voice is also featured on this song alongside her late uncle Miyagi.
"You never heard me say, 'You's a sucka ass, busta ass'/ If they ask, tell them that I ain't mad/ I'm just sad it never worked out" -- "Remember"
One of Souled Out's bonus tracks, Aiko calls out her ex for potentially fathering a child with another woman during their relationship. Here, she vents about never calling out the individual and being somber about the failed relationship.
"You make me see the truth in things, I think that you are/ The remedy for everything, it seems that you are/ The truth itself 'cause nothing else can take me so far" -- "Blue Dream"
On the second bonus track from Souled Out, she salutes her favorite strain of weed, Blue Dream.
"I'mma come through with that action/ Then leave you on the mattress" -- "Déjà Vu"
Linking up with boyfriend Big Sean, Aiko formed the Rap&B superduo Twenty88 to release their self-titled debut studio album. Here, she's blunt with her intentions of getting off and leaving afterward.
"Don't you know there's a line for my love/ And you be out here lying on us/ Ain't that some sh--/ Ain't that a bitch" -- "Selfish"
TWENTY88 is a complicated saga, and this particular line acknowledges boundaries being crossed, which is unfathomable to the female lead.
"I don't mean to sound hysterical/ But baby if you left, baby if you left/ It'll be a historical disaster/ The kids will sing about it, swear the kids will sing about it/ Like the London Bridge is falling down" -- "London Bridge"
Taking on the nursery rhyme, Aiko doesn't want the relationship to end in this sorrowful ballad.
"I love me, I love me enough for the both of us" -- "From Time" off Drake's Nothing Was The Same (2013)
The singer understands that although her complicated lover doesn't appreciate her, her amount of self-love is powerful enough for the both of them.
"I done spent 1, 2, 3 a.m. thinking about you/ Don't wanna be without you, 'cause I'm on that liquid courage/ I hope this sh-- is worth it, 'cause if it ain't then it's all bad, all bad" -- "Drunk Texting" from Chris Brown's X (2013)
Turning everyone's biggest regret into song, the soulstress contemplates drunk texting an ex late at night.
"I am the matter that cannot be seen/ I am the conscious you have in your dream/ Do not be scared of my dark energy/ I am not here I exist in between"
"Yeah, that's me, I'm magical/ I'm black I'm strapped with magic, bro/ I'm nothing you have had before/ I'm everything but nothing more" -- "Blak Majik" from Common's Nobody's Smiling (2014)
In parts one and two of the closing verse of this Grammy-nominated song, the singer celebrates her black heritage -- basically a #blackgirlmagic salute in a nutshell.
"But he gotta eat the booty like groceries" -- "Post to Be" from Omarion's Sex Playlist (2014)
The singer's most infamous lyric to date that went super viral, super quickly.
"Gotta read the sign like a zodiac/ I'm a low-key freak, you don't know me yet" -- "Maniac"
"Post to Be" and TWENTY88 were the preludes to the raunchier side of the singer. This line sums it up perfectly.