NEW YORK — Three Grammy nominations didn’t hurt, but it’s a bit of naughty lyric offering new meaning to the consumption of groceries that has propelled Jhene Aiko’s popularity.
The soulful singer with the big future has achieved something relatively unusual in the world of Internet memes, a lasting presence beyond 15 fame-filled minutes thanks to her contribution on Omarion’s “Post to Be,” a chill but explicit song that has reached No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart.
But the song, also featuring Chris Brown, is buzzy beyond the charts, with some calling it a warm-weather, feel-good anthem due in large part to Aiko’s verse about a specific sex act, of the “booty” and “eating” variety. Like “groceries.”
“Jhene has the standout lyric. She may have the lyric of the summer, or the lyric of the year,” said Rob Markman, senior hip-hop editor for MTV News. “The healthy thing about it is that music opens a conversation about sex in a way that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with otherwise.”
Eight months after the song dropped, followed by a video, the groceries line is the GIF that keeps on giving among social media users, playing on the lead-in: “I might let your boy chauffeur me, but he gotta eat the …” You get the picture.
At the recent BET Awards, Omarion and Brown performed the hit song and during Aiko’s verse, they made its meaning clear in dance. Even Rihanna sang along.
“It works for so many reasons,” Markman said of the verse. “One, it’s just funny. And it’s really catchy. And it touches on something that’s maybe a little bit taboo, maybe something that we’re not supposed to sing about, but she takes it and does it in a cute way.”
Twitter’s had a good time with Aiko’s turn of phrase. So have Facebookers and Instagramers who have captioned and hunted down photos ranging from pleasantly punny to downright X-rated. One involves SpongeBob doing to an ice cream cone what she suggests for the booty.
All of that is just fine with Aiko, who released her debut EP in 2013 and first full-length album last year.
“It was a fun song. … I wanted my part to be funny and unexpected, and ironically ‘groceries’ rhymes with ‘Post to Be,’ so it works,” Aiko told MTV News (she could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment).
And Aiko’s certainly not the first to sing about sex.
Marvin Gaye treated the world to some “Sexual Healing” and Olivia Newton-John rubbed up against some barely dressed hunks in a shower in her video for “Physical,” a song that ends with: “Let’s get animal, animal” and “Let me hear your body talk.”
The ‘90s were a veritable feast of oral sex in song, while Nicki Minaj likened the booty act described by Aiko to a cupcake in her hit, “Only,” and comedienne Amy Schumer parodied the backside craze in her popular video, “Milk Milk Lemonade.”
Aiko said she was inspired to take on the subject by the explicit short videos on Vine of Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates - and that while she sings “gotta,” she personally considers what she’s describing as optional in life.
Radio stations have been mixed on bleeping the line, Markman said. So far, the song has sold 656,387 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The 27-year-old Aiko, known more for serious, introspective and personal songs, is best known for the Grammy-nominated R&B hit, “The Worst.” She has collaborated with a number of artists, including Drake, Nick Jonas and Kendrick Lamar.
Andrew Hampp, senior correspondent for Billboard, sees her “Post to Be” verse in a broader context.
“We’re definitely in a new moment for female sexual expression in hip-hop right now,” he said, thanks also to Janelle Monae’s “Yoga” and Minaj’s “Get On Your Knees,” which features Ariana Grande singing a hook dedicated exclusively to oral sex.
“The feminist in me is happy.”
“Post to Be” music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPxVSCfoYnU
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