By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Aina Brei’Yon is dubbed Chicago’s female version of J. Cole, which actually makes sense upon hearing her music.
The artist, engineer, producer, songwriter, creative director, composer and performer is a breath of fresh air from the rest of the female MCs, in that she brings substance and purpose into the state of hip-hop.
Moving to Los Angeles 4 years ago, Aina currently resides in Hollywood in the heart of it all. Most recently, she unleashed her project I Missed This Summer and was recognized at the17th annual Independent Music Awards (IMAs) for her success as an artist.
AllHipHop sat down with Aina to discuss J. Cole’s influence, Chicago upbringing, and more.
AllHipHop: How does being from Chicago influence your life & career?
Aina Brei'Yon: Born and raised from the South Side of Chicago, they call it the Wild 100s. South Side of Chicago, that’s where all of my life experiences come from, everything that shaped me into who I am. Making that move to LA was just me stepping out on faith. Everything I learned and knew, I took a chance. No stability behind it, none of that. No real plan, I just know to go. That green light flash, I just go!
AllHipHop: What did you see growing up?
Aina Brei'Yon: Ooh, I’m from the actual hood. I know a lot of people claim Chicago and be living on the outskirts of Chicago, but I’m from Roseland. I’ve seen a lot. Nothing I can really put into detail right here, I put a lot into my music. I’ve seen a lot of fatherless homes, a lot of gang activities, single mothers at a young age... a lot.
AllHipHop: Who are the artists you grew up on?
Aina Brei'Yon: Tupac, out the bread! That was my baby. Biggie, I had a lot of old school influences ‘cause my parents are older. I was blessed to be raised in that type of household where I was introduced to music, even from the 60’s, 70’s. A lot of Tupac in my life, I love Tupac.
AllHipHop: Favorite Tupac song?
Aina Brei'Yon: All of them! [laughs] “Me Against The World,” I’ll say that one. Right next to that is “Brenda Got A Baby” because he talked about things a lot of people wasn’t really talking about.
AllHipHop: Talk about J Cole’s influence in your life in career.
Aina Brei'Yon: I just love J Cole. I love the fact that he don’t do what every artist has to do. He don’t really have to sell himself in order to sell. He has that type of life where he’s like “I’m gonna go move away from everybody. I still got my privacy, but I’m still out here in the public eye.” I absolutely adore that about J Cole.
AllHipHop: What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Aina Brei'Yon: That there’s beautiful life on the other side of what we’ve been through. A lot of people don’t know how to let go. They don’t understand that they’re controlling their destination. They’re in control of everything. A lot of people don’t think they are, so they don’t really even seek their own power. We do have control. You can heal.
AllHipHop: You say Lil Kim is in your Top 5, fav Lil Kim song?
Aina Brei'Yon: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I have to revisit those moments. I love all her entire bodies of work. I can’t single out a certain one. All of them.
AllHipHop: What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you do?
Aina Brei'Yon: Just do it. A lot of people don’t just do it. They don’t step out on faith. They have no faith in themselves. How can you have faith on anything outside of yourself if you don’t have faith in yourself? You have to just do it. There’s no such thing as failure.
You gain from everything you go through just by putting yourself in that experience. Don’t just be here existing. That defeats the purpose of life because you’re not even walking in your purpose. Just do it, that’s the best thing I can tell you.