Jamila Akiko Aba Chilombo, known as Mila J, is an American singer, songwriter, rapper and dancer. She is the older sister of R&B singer Jhéne Aiko and is known for being in Prince's video for "Diamonds and Pearls", and appeared on tracks by RaRa, IMx, Trey Songz and Omarion. She released several singles in 2006–2009 under the name "Mila J" and then went on a hiatus for a number of years following the shelving of her original debut studio album Split Personality before returning as "Japallonia" in 2012 and then reverting to her stage name as Mila J.
She was signed to Motown from 2013 to 2017, and released two EP's titled "M.I.L.A." (2014) and "213" (2016) while signed to them. In 2017 she released two EP's, named "Dopamine" and "11.18". Mila is now an independent artist.
Jamila was born and raised in the upper class Ladera Heights, Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Christina Yamamoto and Dr. Karamo Chilombo (born Gregory Wycliff Barnes), a pediatrician. Her parents later divorced. Her sister is singer Jhené Aiko.
In the start of her career, Mila J joined an up-and-coming dance group leading her to come to the attention of Chris Stokes. After forming this relationship with Stokes, Mila auditioned and starred as a dancer in Prince's "Diamonds and Pearls" video, released in 1991. At this time, Stokes had begun managing Jamila and her sister Miyoko and eventually led them to form the American R&B group, Gyrl. The group began touring with R&B fellow group Immature, who at the time was signed to MCA/Silas Records imprint.
Gyrl's members consisted of Jamila, Miyoko and Paulette Maxwell. Initially while they were backup dancers for Immature, the group's name was Innocence. As backup dancers, they appeared in music videos such as "Da Munchies", "Constantly", the remix to "Constantly", and "I Don't Mind". In 1995, Silas Records has released Gyrl's official debut single, called "Play Another Slow Jam". The song peaked at number 74 on the US Hot R&B Singles, staying on the chart for over six weeks, however, this single missed a mark on the US Billboard Hot 100. After the release of their debut single, Paulette left the group. In 1997, Glorika "Jeanae'" Briley and Tai-Amber Hoo later joined Gyrl, and released the single "Get Your Groove On", featured in the movie B*A*P*S. This single peaked at number 91 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 30 on the US Hot R&B Singles chart, staying on the chart for over 14 weeks, becoming their highest chart appearance at that time. After that, the group announced that they were no longer going to make music and disbanded.
In 2005, she was a member of the other girl group, called Dame Four, with Tomasina Parrot, Tennille Mathis and Mercedes Nelson, who released their single, called "How We Roll". After that, Dame Four didn't last too long as they would split up.
In the early 2000s Mila took a hiatus from the music industry, commenting on this Mila said due to being in a variety of girl groups, she did not know who she was as an "artist," during her hiatus Mila said she avoided Quid pro quo and discovered her artistry saying "I definitely think I was able to take that time off and really figure out who I was as a solo artist and what I wanted to talk about, what I wanted to address, be myself, basically. It was a break because I was in the industry for a minute."
2006–2013: Split Personality debut
After appearing on tracks by RaRa, IMx, and Omarion, Jamila was set to release a 2006 solo album Split Personality under the name Mila J but it was shelved. The album featured a number of appearances from artists on the T.U.G. roster including proteges and its associates, including Marques Houston, Young Rome, Rufus Blaq, and The Underdogs. She performed two songs, "Complete" and "I'm Mi" from the unreleased album during Showtime at the Apollo.
In 2012 Jamila redefined herself by changing her name and appearance from the soft feminine Mila J to the rough-around-the-edges Japallonia. She released a mixtape for free download through DatPiff, supported by a music video, "Blinded". Following Mila J's 2012 mixtape, which received more than 700,000 downloads, she released her "Movin On" music video with VEVO and gave away the single for free on her website and VEVO page.
2014–present: Return to music, M.I.L.A & full-length LP
Now once again billing herself as Mila J, she released her first single called "Smoke, Drink, Break-Up" with the music video premiering on BET's 106 & Park. The single has peaked at #33 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. On May 28, she performed the song at BET's 106 & Park. After the lead single release, she was featured on Trey Songz's Trigga for their song, "Disrespectful" and several other projects. She was currently working on an album entitled M.I.L.A., which stands for Made In Los Angeles. She stated that the album will have a 1990s vibe to it and contains a lot of relationship-based songs such as "Pain in My Heart" and "Times Like These". B.o.B, Ty Dolla Sign, Problem are some of the features mentioned on this project. On August 27, she premiered the lyric video of her second single, "My Main" produced by DJ Mustard and features Ty Dolla $ign on her YouTube channel.
In 2015, Mila was featured on Jodeci's album The Past, The Present, The Future with a track titled "Body Parts". Mila collaborated with duo, BC KINGDOM for their joint-EP entitled, PRESS START where she finds her voice experimenting on different sounds, unlike her previous work. Her stage name was changed to MILA, at that short period of time. Critics reviewed the EP as "melancholically dark and edgy" and calling it a "Summer's love jam" for the fans. On June 10, she reverted her stage name back to Mila J and premiered a new single, "FreakNic", of her upcoming untitled debut full-length LP. She released her second mixtape on November 12, 2015 titled, The Waiting Game.
In 2016, she has been on the songs "Don't Get No Betta" with Timbaland, "Me and You", "TBH", "Bad Girls Club" with Honey Cocaine and Dawn Richard, and a cover of Prince's "Erotic City".
In 2017, she left Motown record label and now is independent and on April 07, 2017 she released an 13 track EP called "Dopamine". She is currently working on her debut album.
Mila has cited Janet Jackson as her main inspiration. She went on to say "I just love how she entertains," said Mila of the pop icon. "You go to her shows, she’s gon’ have a million dancers—lights, camera, action. It was just cool to see a female dancing and singing." Mýa and Brandy are also huge inspirations to Mila.
- Split Personality (2006) (officially unreleased)
- Made in L.A. (2014)
- 213 (2016)
- Dopamine (2017)
- 11.18 (2017)