Some people use therapy to convey their inner thoughts and feelings—but Jhené Aiko uses music to sing about love, loss, and every emotion in between.
"That's my go-to form of therapy is creating these songs that allow me to just express what I'm feeling," Aiko told CBS News' Jamie Yuccas.
"Chilombo" is an album that allows 32-year-old Aiko to come into her own. Chilombo is Aiko's last name and means "wild beast" in an African language. When "Chilombo," Aiko's third studio album, was released a year ago, it debuted at number one on Billboard's R&B chart.
Sexuality and spirituality are central themes in Aiko's life and lyrics. She said she writes very sexually explicit lyrics as a way to express herself.
"I know. It's interesting. Because why? Sexuality is a part of our spirituality. And I've never been afraid to talk about my sexuality and express my wants and my needs. I love every side of me," Aiko said.
"I think to a lot of women that's very brave. Do you see it that way?" Yuccas asked.
"Yeah, I do. I do. But I think that all throughout the world, there are women that are oppressed and really can't say how they feel or do the things that they want," Aiko replied. 'They don't have that freedom. I hope that my music allows people to feel like they can express themselves through me."
Aiko broke into music more than a decade ago. Back in 2014, she was up for three Grammys, including "Best R&B Song."
She is best known for a string of collaborations with hitmakers like Childish Gambino, Drake and her current partner Big Sean. But her favorite duets are with her daughter, Namiko.
"She did not want to collaborate on this album with me because she's 12. And she's cooler than me," Aiko laughed. "And so hopefully, once she gets a little older, I'll be cool to her again."
Writing about being present has flowed out of Aiko since she was a toddler. She can still recall the first rap she wrote at age five.
These days Aiko plays crystal singing bowls and incorporates them into her songs. Some believe tones resonate through the body, bringing balance, healing, and harmony.
"It makes me feel centered. I feel like my best self when I'm playing the bowl," she said.
Her songs are resonating. "Chilombo" has been streamed more than 2 billion times globally. Aiko's story is one of toughness and tenacity meets femininity and feelings.
"At this moment in my life, I feel wild and free. I feel powerful like a majestic beast," Aiko said. "I grew up with brothers and a bunch of boy cousins. If they were wrestling, playing football, I always felt like I could do it. And I could do it better. Even if I couldn't, I was gonna try."
"Chilombo" received three Grammy nominations: Album of the Year, Best Progressive R&B Album, and Best R&B Performance for "Lightning & Thunder". The 63rd GRAMMY Awards are airing Sunday, March 14, 2021, on CBS.