Album review: Jhene Aiko gets meditative on “Chilombo”

Photo courtesy of Singersroom

Story by Salina Vongsanith/Contributing Writer

Jhene Aiko released her 3rd studio album, “Chilombo,” on March 6th, which focuses on the healing nature of sound while also highlighting stories about a relationship.

Aiko, an American R&B singer, explores new sounds on “Chilombo” that tell the story of her relationships while becoming invested in the healing power of music. For the 20 track album, Aiko collaborated with Big Sean, H.E.R., Miguel, John Legend and more.

The album was named after Aiko’s father. She made this album to be very personal, and used a variety of healing sounds and lyrics to tell her stories. Aiko described the album as having beats that are beautiful, confident and graceful. It’s production leaves listeners feeling healed and relieved. She uses the instruments of crystal sound bowls in most of her songs. Aiko is known for using sounds like these that are utilized in meditation. It almost feels as if she created a free-flowing jam session with “Chilombo.”

Previously released tracks, such as “None of Your Concern” feat. Big Sean, “Happiness Over Everything” feat. Future and Miguel, and her hit, “Triggered (freestyle)” are on this album as well. Many of these songs are incredibly therapeutic to listen to, which makes sens, as Aiko turned her pain and frustrations into art with the goal of offering a healing process with the album.

The first song, “Lotus – intro,” starts with only a simple piano melody as her calming voice sings the lyrics, “Till it was open, just like a Lotus / She found her focus, the beast awoken.”

In “Triggered, (freestyle),” there’s a sense of calmness to the lyrics even as she portrays herself to be in an angry emotional place, hence the name of the song. The song has strong lyrics about a past relationship, and how she had to overcome the process of healing from being hurt. Another track, “None of Your Concern (feat. Big Sean)” relays a similar message, but it reflects more on her attempt to move on.

Aiko incorporates soft, meditative sound bowls into “Speak.” It’s a feel-good track that brings a sense of freedom with it. The message relays in the song, telling listeners to speak and be who they want to be.

The next track, “B.S. (feat. H.E.R),” gives us lo-fi R&B beats with repetitive sound bowls incorporated, and focuses on her growth from previous struggles through relationships she’s been in. Two calming voices come together that empowers listeners to feel good and in control of life. As the lyrics say, “Back up on my B.S, back up on the scene / I need you to go now, I can fix my own crown.” This track was easily one of my favorites from the album.

Other tracks, such as “One Way (feat. Ab-Soul)” give listeners an old-school lo-fi vibe. “Define Me – interlude” includes sound bowls again, with Aiko humming in the background. Songs like “Surrender” once again place an emphasis on a variety of crystal alchemy sound bowls to ease the mind, heart and body.

“Born Tired,” comes with a soft upbeat track with uplifting lyrics: “I’m tired, but I’m fired up.” Aiko also finds emotionally contentment and happiness in these songs and in “Love.”

“10k Hours” features rapper Nas, with a piano-heavy instrumental of old school R&B as Aiko meditates on how it feels to lose a loved one. In “Pray for You,” Aiko highlights the healing process again when she says, “I pray you find your confidence / though we’re not together, God bless you still.”

“Lightning & Thunder (feat. John Legend)” features a relaxing jazz track while including sounds that imitate lightning and thunder at the end of the song. “Magic Hour,” contains another soft, melancholic sound of chimes that echo through the song. Aiko claims to love the idea of waiting for a miracle on this track.

The closing track to Chilombo is “Party for Me (feat. Ty Dolla Sign).” It’s got a hip-hop vibe and the lyrics are about celebrating life. Jhene Aiko has not disappointed with this new album at all. We get the chance to see her personal growth in an album that’s beautifully crafted. Each song gives a different sense of healing, whether you’re in a relationship, happy and content on your own or giving yourself confidence.

Jhene Aiko’s Magic Hour Tour starts in May, and she will perform several North American shows, including one in Nashville.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email

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