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The KickBack – Sail Out

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, November 14, 2013

The second you hear her voice, you’ll know why she is a budding superstar. I first heard her voice associated with Top Dawg Entertainment on songs with Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. You probably first heard her voice on a few cuts off Drake’s latest album, “Nothing Was the Same.”

But now Jhene (pronounced juh-nay) Aiko is off on her own, sailing out, if you will, with her latest EP, “Sail Out.” I’ve been looking forward to this project for quite some time, but I couldn’t help but be left a little disappointed with where it ended up going. 

The only prior knowledge I had of the EP was her single “Bed Peace,” with Childish Gambino. This song is by far the best track off the release and one that I recommend everyone listens to. It will have you hooked and keep you hitting the repeat button. 

The track starts out with an airy guitar riff followed by the angelic, soothing melody of Aiko singing a catchy, light-hearted hook that will soon turn into a sing-along after you hear it once. Her voice fits perfectly with the bouncy melody and then Childish Gambino comes in to seal the deal.

Aiko says she wanted to find someone to be the John Lennon to her Yoko Ono, and she couldn’t have found a better fit. Childish Gambino fits right in with the jubilant nature of the song, making it one of the feel-good tracks of 2013 without a doubt. 

Because I heard this track first, I thought the rest of the seven-song EP would follow in a similar vein. But it was more like seeing hilarious previews to a comedy you really want to see, but then realizing all of the movie’s best parts were in the preview. 

The biggest disappointment was the track I looked forward to the most: “Stay Ready (What A Life),” mostly because it featured Kendrick Lamar. I’ve never been disappointed by a Kendrick Lamar verse, but this one comes pretty close to it. The intensity and depth that makes Kendrick what he is doesn’t appear here, but the lazy beat doesn’t help either. 

I ran into a similar problem with the Ab-Soul feature on “WTH.” And let’s not even mention the completely out-of-place Vince Staples feature on the opening track, “The Vapors.”

If anything, the overall feel of the EP is forgettable. I got the sense that Aiko was in her element on “Bed Peace” and either lost sight of that or never wanted to go in that direction in the first place. The truth is, she should, because she shines when her music resembles a sunny day rather than a stormy one.