Drake Collaborator Jhene Aiko Was Almost A Teenage Pop Star

(Radio.com) Jhene Aiko was almost a teenage pop star. At 12 she signed a deal with Epic Records, leading her to an opening slot on tour with R&B group B2K in 2002 and handful of movie synchs including You Got Served and Barbershop. The label wanted to turn her into another run-of-the-mill pop star, but Aiko wanted to write her own songs. By 16, she was asking to be let go from her contract.

Nine years later, the 25-year-old from California says that is still one of the best decisions she's ever made. It allowed her to escape the fakeness of Hollywood and experience the real world by going back to school, holding down a full-time job as a waitress and eventually having her daughter Namiko in 2008.

Aiko has always lived by the motto that everything happens for a reason, so she doesn't look back on her early years with any kind of anger. She goes with her own flow, an idea she termed "sailing herself" after a rather awkward label meeting in which it was suggested she try "selling herself." The personal mantra has become a running theme in the titles of her releases, 2011′s Sailing Soul(s) mixtape and new EP Sail Out.

These days, Aiko doesn't really have to sell herself Drake has done that for her. She not only sings (and wrote) the hook on Drizzy's Nothing Was The Same track "From Time," she's shown up on his recent Would You Like a Tour? to represent her part (and would like to work with him again).

"I wanted to write something for him that he would like and the first thing I wrote was very personal," she told Radio.com. "So when I got into the studio with him I laid down the hook, freestyled it. We had instant chemistry."

But Drake's not the only rapper who's an Aiko fan. Sail Out sees her teaming up again with Kendrick Lamar on the track "Stay Ready (What a Life)," following their 2010 collab on his early song "Growing Up." "As a lyricist, I'm always impressed by how much he can fit in a verse," she said of the Compton rapper, adding that after hearing his rap for "Stay Ready," a slinky song that has Kendrick spitting about monogamy, she decided to change her own lyrics up a bit.

"When I recorded the song, I wanted to keep it simple and sexy," Aiko explained. "But when he sent me back his verse, I realized the song could be more than that, so I decided to elaborate on my original verse and stop being lazy."

Aiko likens her songs to diary entries, and everything in her own life is fair game. Her latest single "The Worst" which has her repeating the lines, "I don't want you/But I need you," over and over was inspired indeed by a real relationship. The video, which features Aiko nonchalantly traipsing around her home as the police come to bust her for murder, is a metaphor for her "killing those feelings" she had for him. more on this story

Radio.com is an official news provider for antiMusic.com.
Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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