With so much chaos swarming around the country since March it can be extremely difficult to see any light. Here’s a little light for ya: a beautifully written article about the dichotomy, more of a yin and yang, of Jhene Aiko vs Meg the Stallion by Natasha Ivery over at Kulthered Media.
Earlier this month, R&B songstress Jhene Aiko and rap sensation Megan Thee Stallion both released projects-Aiko an album and Thee Stallion a debut EP. Both projects were highly anticipated and in varying ways, they both deliver.
Jhene Aiko, born Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo, first made waves in 2011 with her 2011 mixtape, Sailing Souls, which she released independently. It included features from Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. By the end of the year, Aiko had signed a recording contract with ARTium, producer No I.D.’s Def Jam-distributed label.
Her 2014 EP, Souled Out, hit number one and three respectively on Billboard 200. Then again in 2017, Jhene cemented her role as a top R&B songstress and set herself apart with the hazy, acid reminiscent Trip with the hippie smokers anthem Sativa ft Swae Lee of the rap pop duo Rae Sremmurd.
Now in 2020, 31 year old Jhene Aiko has proven herself as the sultry/air music healing fairy with Chilombo, her latest studio album. The music style is a middle ground between her early. More traditional sounds of R&B with the airy, nature and other-wordly sounds of Trip. The project has already garnered more than 363 million streams, according to Nielsen Music/MRC data.
Aiko, who will head out on tour this May, believes the notion of the phrase “none of your concern,” in particular, extends well beyond her love life, saying that self-discovery played a crucial role in the creation of Chilombo, for which she trekked to Hawaii to record. It was there that she decided to turn her last name into the album title. “ ‘Chilombo’ is a word that means ‘wild beast’ — they’re strong, confident and graceful,” she says. “Beasts are also beautiful.”
The album is meant to be a menage of healing stories and to open up chakras through the human body-Aiko even incorporated crystal alchemy sound bowls, which produce a vibrational hum-on each track to promote healing for her listeners via tranquility and peace to help reduce stress and anxiety.
“For instance, ‘P*$$Y Fairy (OTW)’ ” — the album’s punchiest and most provocative track — “is in the key of D, so I played a bowl in the note of D,” explains Aiko weeks after the listening session. “D corresponds with your second chakra (sacral chakra), which governs your sexual organs below your navel and your hips. So even though the song is fun and sexy, there’s an actual healing instrument in there to help balance you out in those areas.”
Other standout tracks on the album include “Surrender” ft rapper Dr. Chill where Aiko’s voice floats gallantly and indulgently, evaporating into a low breathy purr. “Lightening and Thunder” with soul crooner John Legend is arguably one of the sleeper songs on the album, combining lush and green thunderstorm and rain sounds as Jhene and John take turns building rising melodies off of each other’s discovery of love. Both of their vocals add a pillowy, cloud-esque magic to the track. Even the opening track,which is a short interlude called “Lotus,”is a short story about a woman who found healing and a new spiritual awakening after a man came and broke her heart during a whirlwind love. If listened to in a vulnerable state, it will invoke tears. “Born Tired” is an exhausted but sweet ode to women being tired of life, mental health, relationships and other issues that plague us but still recognizing the beauty in the progress we’ve made and the woman we work everyday to become.
On the flip side, there’s the millennial woman favorite, our own personal unicron named Megan Thee Stallion who also dropped her debut project, Suga among an ongoing record label battle in which Megan is asking for her contract to be amended as she signed it when she was younger and didn’t fully understand all of the included implications.
Despite original reports of Megan not being able to drop new music (the battle is still ongoing), she did put out a rushed EP, one that she was hoping to put out on her mother’s birthday, May 2nd. A temporary restraining order against her label, 1501, allowed her to put out Suga, a compact but filling project that reminds us that Megan is and always be who she constantly tells us she is, despite any public battles or blogs that say otherwise.
25 year old Megan Thee Stallion (born Megan Pete) from the southern charm state of Houston, Texas, Megan began making waves in 2017 with her brash “Stalli Freestyle” and became a viral sensation within 2 short years. She’s a big-hearted, money making, man-snatching sex positive powerhouse who is a smart student both of college and the rap game who adores her Hotties, aka her fans. Standing at 5’10 and thicker than cold grits from Alabama, Megan lives up to her name of being a stallion and is nothing to be played with.
Megan has two alter egos-Tina Snow, who is a frosty wintertime baddie who’s grown, sexy and bossy and Hot Girl Meg, who is the literal definition of Hot Girl Summer, Suga is “a girl who’s going through it but getting through it.”
Megan tackles loss, fame and relationships with clear, cool and witty raps. Although she’s been friendly with many women in the industry, she makes it clear she’s not interested in hanging out on the track “Stop Playing”- “You bitches are weird, I don’t wanna hang,” she coyly and cooly explains.
But she embraces her sexuality, even if she resents the constant speculation around it. On “Captain Hook,” she spells it out simply: “I like to drink and I like to have sex.” The song is a showcase of everything Megan has built her career on: energy, humor, brashness. “Dance on the dick, now you been served/I like a dick with a little bit of curve/Hit this pussy with an uppercut/Call that nigga Captain Hook!” she says, over swashbuckling sound effects.
Other shining beacons on the album include the Tupac inspired “B.IT.C.H.”, Hit My Phone and Crying in the Car.
Megan gives herself a lightly profane pep talk and sends up a prayer on “Crying in the Car,” a tender earworm.
Both albums provide a new and vital exploration for Black women. Megan brings the rap, confidence, get through and boisterous dance party, while Jhene provides the soft crying, inner goddess healing and self awareness with crystal vibrations and soft melodies. Both projects are crucial to Black women because they provide outlets for women to heal-whether you need some reminder of the baddie you are and how you eat male tears for breakfast, or you need a good therapy session with a trusted bestie and can’t get to yours, each project serves that purpose. Find your inner freak and fairy, gangster and goddess, hot girl and healing-Jhene is for the healing while Megan is for the twerking. Each project is an important manifesto in the Black Girl Bible and is sure to give you what you seek. Give them a spin today.