Jhene Aiko heals with ‘Chilombo’


The album cover for ‘Chilombo.’ ‘Chilombo’ was released on March 6th.  @jheneaiko

The album cover for ‘Chilombo.’ ‘Chilombo’ was released on March 6th. @jheneaiko

Los Angeles native singer and songwriter Jhene Aiko dropped her third studio album on March 6. Aiko titled this album after her father’s last name, “Chilombo,” which means “wild beast,” as Aiko explained to Billboard. The last name he chose for himself was then passed down to the rest of the family. This 20-track album is a psychedelic dream featuring music favorites from H.E.R. to Ty Dolla $ign. Two years after her “Trip” album, Aiko did not disappoint with the highly anticipated release. 

What differentiates this album from any other release of this year is that Aiko used sound healing properties in her production process. Aiko used singing bowls, which release a vibrational hum when struck or shaken. Singing bowls are used in Buddhist practices for meditation. The tracks with the singing bowl sounds were relaxing.  

Aiko spoke to Billboard about using music healing properties to target chakras. Chakras are pinpoints in the spinal cord that feel energy.  

“There are bowls on every single song on this album. Some you can hear more than others, but they are throughout the whole album,” Aiko said. “‘Chilombo’ definitely has a lot more acoustic instruments because I want it to be music that you feel.”  

Aiko’s Billboard interview goes in depth on why the singer wanted to pinpoint different energy spots in the human body, but perhaps most importantly, she wanted listeners to feel the music. 

As a fan of Jhene Aiko, it is hard to pick favorites from this album. “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.)” featuring Future and Miguel is one of the singles Aiko released in February. This revamped version of the original track released in 2011 by Aiko and Miguel shows that music is timeless. I remember hearing the original song in high school, and it brought me back to when I first discovered her.  

Another favorite is “Born Tired,” which has a soft acoustic melody. Aiko sings about her struggles, but she’s still “fired up.” Despite her struggles, Aiko has a positive outlook. This song is a reminder that strength is gained by overcoming obstacles.  

Aiko collaborated with John Legend for an angelic piece called “Lightning & Thunder.” Aiko and Legend play two lovers that are separated but still hold strong feelings for one another.  

“What if the feeling’s reciprocal / She misses me like I miss her soul,” Legend sings.  

He expresses the mutual understanding in their relationship. The soft acoustic strums and  smooth vocals make this beautiful duet my favorite collaboration on this album. Other artists featured on the album were Big Sean, Nas, Ab-Soul and Dr. Chill, who worked with Aiko on her 2017 album “Trip.”  

Though I have been a diehard fan of Aiko’s music since high school, with so many album releases this year, I did not have any expectations for this album. I wasn’t anticipating the release date, but once I heard “Magic Hour” for the first time, I knew I had to continue listening. Listening to the songs in order felt like going through a journey of self-healing with Aiko. The songs flowed perfectly into one another. What separates Aiko from other artists is that she embraces her roots and freestyles most of her lyrics. Being in the industry for a while now, Aiko still remains a “low-key” artist. She is a gem to the music industry and a voice to those who want to connect to music in a deeper sense.  

Aiko “The Magic Hour Tour” was sold out shortly after the album release. Some shows include Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. with special guests Queen Naika and Ann Marie.  

Rating: 5/5 

Cindy Lam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at cindy.lam@uconn.edu.

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