Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Big tune: Jhené Aiko - To Live and Die

Jhené Aiko has been a name to drop since she provided guest vocals for two songs on Drake's Nothing Was The Same last year. Her subsequent EP, Sail Out, sold a quarter of a million and she scored a number one on the R&B charts with its lead track, The Worst.

The Drake connection is a good indication of what you're in for: Stoned soul, stormy emotions and gramatically-incorrect phrases like "please don't take it personal". What stops her from being another imitator is a sweet, tender falsetto that imbues her songs with a heart-rending fragility.

Ahead of her appearance at this weekend's BET Awards, Aiko has popped a new single on the internet. To Live & Die is the first release from her debut album, Souled Out, and it features Cocaine 80s, who are apparently a hip-hop crew of some description.

Caught in a musical tug-of-war with an indecisive partner, the 26-year-old delivers her lyrics just behind the beat, creating a palpable sense of apprehension. "Love side, hate side, never in between," she sings. "Live forever for love - or you can die today".

The song was premiered last night by DJ PupDawg, who helpfully spoiled the mood by putting his "tag" all over the top of it. If you can ignore that, it sounds like a hit.

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