It’s been five years since Cassie‘s first and last album was released. And while the relationship between lithe-voiced R&B female singers and minimalist producers both pre- and post-dates that record, in the years since, her status as exiled robot queen has only grown. It’s a combination of unjustness and record label logic—all of her singles aside from the archetype of “Me and U” have unfortunately been met with middling success. To those waiting, then, comes Jhene Aiko, who’s been around the R&B world since she was five, having been signed to Chris Stokes’ (of B2K/molestation fame) T.U.G. Records. Her new mixtape, Sailing Soul(s), was produced mostly by Fisticuffs, the duo responsible for a number of Miguel tracks. “Stranger” is the strongest track, super minimal and moody with crisp snare and Aiko lightly cascading in a mold happily familiar to “Me and U” diehards. The rest of Sailing Soul(s) has some strong moments as well, sometimes recalling another forgotten singer Res or her songwriter Santogold’s most rock moments. High hopes for a song called “Space Jam” did not quite pan out. Still, all is worth investigating and Vibe has an expansive interview with the now unsigned singer.
Download: Jhene Aiko, “Stranger”
Download: Jhene Aiko’s Sailing Soul(s) mixtape