You may not know her name (yet), but chances are, you’ve heard her voice. Jhené Aiko lent her vocals to Drake’s Nothing Was the Same album, appearing on standout track “From Time.” But this R&B songstress is about to step out of Drake’s shadows. Jhené has one of the most anticipated R&B releases this year with her debut album Souled Out (out May 2014), and her smooth stoner flow has made her one to watch in the industry.
So before she breaks, Wetpaint Entertainment has rounded up five fun facts about the singer so you can say you knew about Jhené Aiko before she cracked the Top 40.
She’s a quarter Japanese. Jhené’s mother is Japanese, Spanish, and Dominican while her father is African-American, Native-American, and German. "I’m a quarter Japanese,” she told Vice earlier this year. That’s the only percentage I know for sure because it’s my grandfather's. And then everyone else is pretty much like mixed."
She made her big break with B2K. Jhené began her musical career contributing vocals to several B2K singles released in 2002. She is featured on the R&B group's remix album, B2K: The Remixes – Volume 1. She recorded “Santa Baby” for their holiday album, Santa Hooked Me Up, and she appeared as a guest vocalist on the song "Tease" from their Pandemonium! release. Jhené also served as the opening act for B2K on their Scream Tour 3.
She’s a mom. At the age of 20, Jhené became pregnant by R&B crooner O'Ryan — B2K singer Omarion’s younger brother — and gave birth to their daughter Namiko on November 19, 2008. She named her daughter Namiko Love, which means “child of the wave,” after reading a book by the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. And little Nami is the spitting image of her mom!
Her biggest musical influence is Tupac. “He stood for something,” she told MTV Wrap Up. He used music as a platform for something more important than just entertainment. It wasn’t just entertainment for him… it was like, ‘I have this audience now, let me tell them something important...’ That’s why I love Tupac.”
She has an alter ego named J. Hennessy. “I have a few alter egos,” she told Vice. “They’re not serious; I don’t like wake up and say, ‘Call me J. Hennessy today,’ but it started as a joke because of the spelling of my name, J-H-E-N-E, which could be pronounced ‘J. Henny.’ In middle school I had a friend who called me that. Then I started drinking Hennessy as I got older. I also like to freestyle and battle rap. Sometimes I say some really good bars when I freestyle, but I’m more of a battle rapper.”
Check out Jhené Aiko’s new music video for her single, “Comfort Inn Ending,” below and hit the comments with your reactions!