DETAILS: Where did you come up with the idea for Your single "Bed Peace" with Childish Gambino?
Jhené Aiko: I was describing my idea of a perfect day. It's about being in bed, in peace. I was like, "Haven't you guys seen John and Yoko?" I was explaining it to everyone in the studio, but they didn't know about the movement.
DETAILS: You recently went on tour with Miguel, Future, and Drake and lent your vocals to Drake's "From Time," which is a hit. Do people recognize you now?
Jhené Aiko: One time in New York during Fashion Week, there were no cabs, all the Ubers were booked, and my manager, the A&R guy from Def Jam, and I were all supposed to go to dinner. We were sitting on the corner when a car full of screaming teenage-girl fans pulled up. I asked them for a ride, we piled in, and they took us to the restaurant, playing my mixtape the whole way there.
DETAILS: Your debut EP, Sail Out, is out now, and your first album, Souling Out, is due in the spring. But you've said in the past that you butt heads with record execs. Why?
Jhené Aiko: One time when I was getting back into the swing of meetings with labels, I got to sing a song for an executive. When I did, he said, "I love your voice, but you have to sell yourself more." My response was, "I'm a person, not a product. Either you get it or you don't." But after a while, I got what he meant. You have to know how to convey yourself to the audience. Open yourself up—flaws and all—and they can't help but relate.
DETAILS: Are you nervous to strike out on your own after coming up being featured on other artists' songs?
Jhené Aiko: Not really. I'm excited—I have a backlog of music and I'm ready to go. From the mixtape to the EP to the album, you'll see a progression. I'm putting myself into the music more. Before I was just scratching the surface.
DETAILS: You work with a lot of rappers. What's it like spending so much time with those guys?
Jhené Aiko: Sometimes they'll try to hit on me or suggest that we be more than just friends, but mostly it turns into a brother-sister relationship. A wise man once told me 25 through 30 are working years. This is when I need to be focused.
DETAILS: On top of dealing with that, you often get romantically linked in the press with your collaborators.
Jhené Aiko: People think that I have a sexual relationship with everyone that I work with. People thought I was dating Big Sean because we'd been to a basketball game together. But the craziest rumor is that I'm with the Top Dawg Entertainment guys—Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q. It would be pretty wild for me to be with all of them.
DETAILS: Have the rumors made the guys you actually date jealous?
Jhené Aiko: Recently they have, but I've always found myself in these role-reversal relationships, where I'm the dude and I'm trying to clear my name: "No, no, it's not what it looks like!" But I'm learning to say, "This is what it is. If you don't believe me, then that's your fault."
DETAILS: Maybe it's because you spend too much time with rap stars.
Jhené Aiko: Maybe I'm just attracted to insecure guys.