written by: Carla Bynum
After years of anticipation and buzz surrounding the Los Angeles native, she is now ready to release her debut studio album, Souled Out on September 9th.
With the success of her critically praised mixtape Sailing Soul(s) in 2011 and her follow up Extended Play Sail Out in 2013, the songbird is ready to sail right into our hearts with her laid back style and heartfelt lyrics.
Jhené has experienced many ups and downs over the years, both personally and professionally, and she is ready to tell her story.
Souled Out is a concept album that follows a woman who’s in a dark place in her life as she navigates through heartbreak and confusion before she becomes enlightened.
W.A.Y.S. is an acronym of her brother’s favorite saying “Why aren’t you smiling.” This song is dedicated to her late brother Miyagi and her daughter Namiko. In the song, she says she’s visited by an angel at 3:16, a time that she considers the darkest hour. Things get harder for her but she has to keep going, especially for her daughter.
The album’s lead single “To Live and Die” was released on June 24 and features Cocaine 80s and production by No ID. The song has an eerie feel and is about love and affection and interpolates 50 Cent’s “Many Men (Wish Death).” Jhené is willing to do anything for love, even if it kills her because love is that important to her.
“Spotless Mind” sets the tone for the path Jhené is going on throughout the album. She is a wanderer who likes to travel without an end point in mind. She’s on a journey to find love.
Jhené tries to convince herself that “It’s Cool” with her if her guy doesn’t commit to her but her tune changes midway through the track. She admits that she originally didn’t want anything from him but sex but she fell in love. He helped her smile during a difficult time and she loves him for adding a little happiness to her life.
While things were seemingly going great for Jhené and her lover on the previous track, things quickly took a turn for the worse on the song “Lyin King.” He takes pleasure in being a heartbreaker but Jhené knows that karma will eventually catch up to him. She knows she will bounce back from the heartache, but he won’t. He’ll never have it as good as he did with her.
“Wading” is a homophone for “waiting” and continues with the sailing theme so familiar in the songbird’s music. She wonders if she should continue to wait for him to get it together. She soon realizes that if she continues to wait for him, her heart will turn “blue,” meaning she will lose faith in their relationship and her heart may turn cold.
“The Pressure” is the album’s second single. Jhené has admitted that she wrote the song about the pressure to finish her debut album while dealing with the pressure’s of being a single mother and being in a relationship. While those things take a toll on her, she stops caring. She ran out of fucks to give.
Jhené has been hurt so much and isn’t sure if she’s really ready for a new relationship. The new guy is “Brave” to date her because she isn’t easy on love. In fact, he must be crazy to deal with her.
She starts to realize that everything happens for a reason on the song “Eternal Sunshine” and she doesn’t regret anything. She likes to only recall the good things, not the bad.
The cutest collaboration on the album is that of her daughter Namiko and her late brother Miyagi who start off the song “Promise” by singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” together. Her daughter also assists her on the hook. In the first verse, she starts to understand the turmoil of being a musician because she wishes she could be with her daughter all the time. The second verse is dedicated to her brother’s memory and how she wishes he was still physically there with her. Jhené has said this was her favorite song to write in her life.
Jhené and Common team up for the second time (she appeared on the song “Blak Majik” on his album Nobody’s Smiling) for the song “Pretty Bird (Freestyle)”
The deluxe edition of the album features two additional songs, “Remember” and “Blue Dream.”
On the song “Remember,” she is sad that the relationship she had with her ex didn’t work out because he gave someone else what they had and there’s no chance of him getting second chances. “Do you remember who you were to me,” she asks.
The song “Blue Dream” seemingly revolves around Jhené losing herself in idyllic thoughts of a man, however, Jhené admitted that the lyrics were actually written about a form of weed by the same name. You are the truth and remedy for everything, she sings on the track.
Many people have been waiting for Jhené to release her debut album for years and now that it’s finally here, it doesn’t disappoint. It tells the relatable story of a girl who is trying to find herself and love in the midst of pandemonium. Jhené’s voice is quite soothing which is perfect for the album’s mellow mood. Finally, the wait is over!
Recommended Tracks: “W.A.Y.S.,” “Wading,” “Brave,” “Promises,” “Blue Dream”