Jhené Aiko showcases her versatility in range, sound and experimentation on her third studio album Chilombo.
It’s a project she’s said is a mix of three of her past projects Sailing Soul(s), Sail Out and Souled Out put together.
The album’s title honours her family name but also speaks to the album being a musical guide to healing — no matter what stage you’re in.
Jhené broke down the title into five parts based on healing, spirituality and life via her Instagram stories: “[Chi] is life force. [l] is for Love. Love is Living On Valued Energy. Taking care of the future by being fully present in. this. moment. [om] is the sound of the universe. The solution is sound. [b] represents the leg and the foot … foundation. B is for base; basics, beginnings. [o] is eternity, infinite, wholeness, totality, perfection.
The majority of the lyrics on the album can double as affirmations … This is important and useful now, more than ever.
The majority of the lyrics on the album can double as affirmations. Aiko uses music as healing and freedom for herself but makes it a tool for others as well. This is important and useful now, more than ever.
With the COVID-19 pandemic creating a new “normal” for many on a global scale, Jhené’s words bring a sense of peace. On the track “LOVE”, she sings, “I am more than my emotions, I know I am in control … I am living in the moment.” These lyrics stick with me because like many I have difficulty with anxiety and overthinking in everyday life. Those lyrics are a reminder that I control my emotions. I allow myself to feel emotions when things come up but do not allow them to consume me.
In the “Waking up with” series by Elle Magazine, Jhené has shared that one of her purposes is to help aid people in the healing process. Through studying sound, she has infused her music with underlying tones and keys for specific areas of healing. As someone who has been on her own healing journey since the days of the Sailing Souls mixtape, I can always find a Jhené song or lyric for whatever I’m dealing with. On this front, Chilombo does not disappoint. As time progresses, and self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing periods get longer and longer, I’ve been left with my thoughts, been forced to self-reflect on parts of myself that I was either afraid of or didn’t know existed.
Jhené’s ability to explore and accept her own duality is inspiring.
The song “Speak” is a refreshing track that is reflective of everything I’m learning to express now in various ways. Whether it’s journaling, painting, reading or just having a conversation I’m using these things as tools to release, let go and value my authenticity by creating my own idea of freedom.
“Born Tired” is another song that is important to me. The second verse on the song speaks to me deeply, “It’s been a long night, long life, long time fighting, let out a long sigh … Alright, why am I trying? … ’Cause look at how far you have come … And look at all that you have going … Look at who you have become … Baby, you gotta keep going.” I can see my journey in these lyrics.
I’ve had to unlearn the habit of telling myself that everything is a re-start and forgetting how far I’ve come in life. My healing isn’t always pretty, sometimes it’s dark — I feel defeated and struggle to finish what I’ve started. I’ve taught myself to pace and worked on creating tools that allow me to love myself during that while still understanding that it’s not forever.
Through the flow of this album, Jhené’s ability to explore and accept her own duality is inspiring. You can be healing, but still be sexy or be completely fed up with your partner, which she gives us on “P*$$Y Fairy (OMW)” and “B.S.” featuring H.E.R. Other tracks like “Tryna Smoke”, “Party Hard For Me” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.)” featuring Miguel and Future are what Jhené is known for.
Chilombo has been a part of my soundtrack to healing during this time.
Everyone’s journey is different during this COVID-19 time, whether it’s resting, getting creative or just being, I’m learning not to judge any of it. We are being reminded of what’s important now that we have limited access to all the people, places and things we once thought we needed. The message of “Magic Hour” is reminiscent to what I’m making of time where we’re forced to be still. “It ain’t perfect but everything’s beautiful here.”
That lyric speaks to how I’ve unexpectedly chose to heal during this time. COVID-19 is scary and it’s changing so fast that you never know what will happen next. Above the cynicism, fear and conspiracy theories, this time is something that we’ll never get again.
Chilombo has been a part of my soundtrack to healing during this time. We don’t know how long this will last but I feel at peace with this body of work Jhené gave us to get through it.