By Siyabonga Dube
The wait is finally over; the anticipated “Souled Out” Jhene Aiko debut album finally blesses us with its presence.
A fully paid bliss trip of nothing but soulful and love enriched tunes, “Souled Out” comes to you as not just a project or a simple release but as true and genuine experiences. Jhene initially caught the masses and the love from the people after her return to music in 2011 dropping her debut mixtape “Sailing Souls”.
“Souled Out” is a combination of a diverse sounds and genres, incorporating Hip Hop, R&B, Alternative and some slight pitch of electronic. The feel of the whole album seems to give you a new age of music. Jhene’s vocals fuse perfectly with the production as if she is floating on the beat, creating this lovely luminous aura around the release.
“Limbo, Limbo, Limbo” opens the release with a super lovely touch to it, with a very beautiful pad and synths and panning keys accompanied a super electric guitar. Jhene comes in vocally and starts painting this story which could be seen as the theme of the whole release. Aiko gives “Souled Out” nothing but her, fully and truly. “W.A.Y.S” shorter for “Why Aren’t You Smiling”, comes off as moto tune, Jhene touches on how she has to keep going and have to understand how life is what it is, as she references an angel which opened her soul and told her that striving on is the only thing she needs to do. “To Live & Die” which was released earlier in the year as the lead single of the album, featuring group “Cocaine 80s” created a lot of hype and increased anticipation, the single is well produced with a heavy bass kick and hard 808 snare, mellow keys and lovely synth particles playing around accompanied by backing vocals from talented James Fauntleroy. Another pre-release big one was “The Pressure” which was dropped a month later.
Jhene doesn’t sound pleasant to the ear only but her lyrical content on the album has to be also acknowledged as she delivers hard solid sound lyrics. The album is basically Jhene alone not many guests appear on “Souled Out”, a total of four, Cocaine 80s, Miyagi, Namiko and Common. All of them not in any way pulling down the quality of the album, but adding emphasis and more soul and blissful atmosphere.
Singles which are stand out apart from the two pre-release singles are, “W.A.Y.S”, “It’s Cool”, “Brave” , “Lyin King” and “Pretty Bird”. Not disregarding the rest of the album, “Souled Out” is sure to spark emotion; overall Jhene’s work speaks for itself and the whole package is in its own class. A very well done debut from its production to its vocals “Souled Out” is sure to be sold out.