At a time when the country is steeped in chaos— 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic and violent protests nationwide— Jhené Aiko sat down with People Magazine to talk about healing and the calm, positive vibes of her album, something we all need a little more of right now.
Aiko dropped her album, Chilombo, back on March 6, and the album is a reflection of Aiko’s own healing processes, which she hopes others can benefit from.
“It made me realize my purpose in making music is not just to get over something,” Aiko told People Magazine. “It’s to help other people heal and deal with what they’re going through.”
Aiko spent a long time in need of healing following her older brother’s death.
Aiko’s older brother, Miyagi, passed away at the age of 26 in 2012 from an inoperable brain tumor. Aiko and Miyagi were very close, and she credits him as having a huge influence on her taste in music. “During the LimeWire days, he had all the newest music,” she told People. “We bonded over Eminem.”
Right before Miyagi died, Aiko’s now-manager played the song she had written for him, titled “For My Brother,” for the first time.
“She played that song, and he took his last breath,” Aiko said. “She said he got really calm.”
Aiko, the youngest of five siblings, said she dealt with her grief by avoiding her siblings and turning to substances to numb her pain, a habit she had developed as early as 12-years-old.
Aiko eventually turned to spirituality and meditation to combat her depression and help her heal.
“I started reading more about death and what it means to live,” she said. “The things I read gave me comfort. I would think of him, and instead of being sad, I would be happy and know he’s not suffering anymore. I realized I still have siblings, and we are him, and he’s a part of us.”
Aiko incorporated the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, used by Buddhist monks in meditation practice, on each track of Chilombo, something Aiko uses in her personal life when she feels frustrated.
“I think we all have some form of anxiety, depression,” she says. “I was never clinically diagnosed, but I definitely have been through some things. When I was younger, I would escape with alcohol or a substance, and obviously those things have terrible side effects. When I got the Tibetan bowls, I would use them when I felt frustrated, and it would just take my mind off of it. What I realized in studying is that the actual tones were vibrating throughout my body and actually helping me. So now, if I have a headache, if I have a stomachache, anything like that, I’ll open up my books, and I’ll see which of these bowls is good for this part of my body, and I’ll play those bowls. I’m definitely taking the natural approach to healing nowadays,” Aiko told People.
Aiko is focused “on manifesting the good things” in life. “It can only get better from here,” she believes.