Who is Mila J?
Mila J is an American rapper, singer/songwriter and dancer, probably best known for her single “My Main” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, and her album “Dopamine”. She is the older sister of famous R&B singer Jhené Aiko.
Mila J’s was born Jamila Akiko Aba Chilombo, on 18 November 1982 in Los Angeles, California, USA, to mother Christina Yamamoto, an art teacher, and father Dr. Karamo Chilombo (born Gregory Wycliff Barnes), a musician and pediatrician. Her beauty comes from her being of African-American, Japanese and Native American descent, and she even has a bit of Dominican, Spanish and German blood coursing through her veins. She grew up in quite a big family, having to share a roof with four sisters and two brothers. According to Mila J herself, she started rapping almost as soon as she could make coherent sentences, as young as four years old. Her passion for music came from the hip-hop trio from Brooklyn, The Fat Boys, and the ‘80s hip-hop movie “Krush Groove”. Having a musician father also highly influenced not only her, but her sisters as well, to fall in love with music. This led Mila J, Jhené, and her other sister Miyoko to pursue a career in the music industry.
For Mila J, her introduction to the music business occurred in 1991, when she was only nine years old and caught the attention of owner and CEO of “The Ultimate Group”, Chris Stokes, at a video shoot for his group “Immature”. Her innate talent for singing and dancing, together with the fact that she appeared in Prince’s “Diamond and Pearls” video before that, made Chris believe that a new rising star had presented herself to him. Joining her under Stokes’ wing was her sister Miyoko and they would eventually form the R&B group Gyrl along with Paulette Maxwell. They appeared in videos as back-up dancers, such as in “Da Munchies” and “Constantly” until 1995, when Silas Records released Gyrl’s official debut single, “Play Another Slow Jam”, which climbed to 74th spot on the US Hot R&B Singles. Two years later, Paulette left and was replaced by Glorika “Jeanae” Briley and Tai-Amber Hoo. The newly reformed group released their only single, “Get Your Groove On”, that was featured in the movie “B.A.P.S”, and peaked at #91 on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as #30 on the US Hot R&B Singles chart.
happy album anniversary to @MilaJ 🎊
‘Dopamine’ was released 5 years ago today! pic.twitter.com/PsZMtmCD3i
— TRBD💧 (@theRNBdrop) April 7, 2022
Mila J took a break for a while after Gyrl disbanded, until 2005 when she joined another girl group, Dame Four, alongside Tomasina Parrot, Mercedes Nelson and Tennille Mathis. Their time together was short lived, however, since they split up soon after their only single, “How We Roll”. Wanting to become recognized as a solo artist and find herself, Mila J signed with Universal Motown, with the guidance of label executive Sylvia Rhone. Her debut album, “Split Personality”, was scheduled to be released in 2006 with the songs “Complete” and “Good Lookin’ Out” serving as a teaser until the whole album cams out, but it was shelved. On the bright side, the album was eventually made available for digital download and streaming in 2019.
In 2012, Mila J redefined her image, which included changing her stage name to Japallonia, but reverted to Mila J just two years later although not before getting two singles out, “Blinded” and “Movin On”
As Mila J, she released the single “My Main”, the moved on to work on her next album, or more precisely an extended play (EP), “M.I.L.A.” (“Made in Los Angeles.”). The EP was introduced with the single, “Smoke, Drink, Break-up”, which peaked at #33 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart, then “Ty Dolla $ign” became the most viewed music video on her YouTube channel, with over 50 million views.
In 2015, Mila J changed her stage name yet again, this time to MILA, while she was working with BC KINGDOM on the EP “Press Start”, but only so that she could match BC KINGDOM, later going back to Mila J when her next single, “FreakNic”, released.
After working with Motown Records for almost a dozen years, in 2017, Mila J ultimately left and became independent. She released her debut album “Dopamine” soon after, to commemorate her independence; the album dropped on 7 April 2017, and featured 13 tracks.
Mila J’s sister, Jhené Aiko
Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo, born on 16 March 1988, is a five-time Grammy Award nominated American R&B singer and songwriter who’s worked alongside many celebrities, such as Big Sean, Lil Wayne, Drake, and others.
Jhené started her music career in 2002, contributing vocals to the boy band B2K while signed to The Ultimate Group record label and managed by Chris Stokes, who also represented her sisters during their early years. Similarly to Mila J, Jhené took a break from the music industry not long after she’d started, and her then to-be-released debut album “My Name is Jhené” was put on hold.
Jhené’s success went skyward starting in 2012, when signed by record producer No I.D. The following year she featured in Big Sean’s song “Beware”, that became her first US Billboard Hot 100 chart appearance. For a while starting in 2016, Jhené and Big Sean were in a romantic relationship, and they would often record and perform together, until the end of 2018 when the two broke up.
Her debut album called “Souled Out” came out on 8 September 2014, reaching the #1 spot on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #3 on the US Billboard 200. Over the years she would release two more studio albums, “Trip” in 2017 and “Chilombo” in 2020. Early in 2022, Jhené had the great honor of performing at Super Bowl LVI, singing “America the Beautiful” accompanied by harpist Gracie Sprout.
As of mid-2022, Mila J has an estimated net worth of $4 million while her sister Jhené Aiko has a net worth of approximately $6 million.