One of the more underrated music releases this year is Mila J‘s Dopamine. What started as a Valentine’s Day release of MILAULONGTIME — a seven track mix-tape taking inspiration from a famous Full Metal Jacket line — expanded into a 13 song EP featuring new cuts. As for us? Here at Billboard Style, we recommend this trap&B journey centered on the emotions of love — particularly for fans of the electro-soul vibes heard on SZA‘s CTRL or Dawn Richard‘s Redemption.
Dopamine exposes various sides of Mila J, but the music video for “Move” — a fast-paced club banger that relates basketball plays to leaving an unfaithful lover — showcases the songstress’ unique style. As an admirer of the “tomboy look” of the 90s — she credits Da Brat, Left Eye of TLC, Kelis, and Gwen Stefani as style inspirations — Mila can be seen wearing an oversized jumpsuit and a pair of Timbs. “I like to be comfortable and incorporate sporty pieces in my look,” she says of her casual style, Classic Nike Air Force Ones being her favorite accessory.
Mila J has been in the music game since 1991 when she starred as a dancer in the video for Prince‘s “Diamond and Pearls”. Since then, the 34-year-old has released a slew of projects as an independent artist, her yet to be released debut album heavily anticipated. And of course, Mila’s the older sister of Jhené Aiko, whose fashion she labeled as that of “a flower child”.
When it comes to Mila J’s personal style decisions, she attributes her Scorpio birth sign as the main factor. “We’re a water sign. Water signs are about how you feel.” She further explained that her hairstyles — ranging from cornrows to straightened blowouts — often change because of that, as well as the dry heat in her hometown of Los Angeles (a city she shouts out on Dopamine‘s “La La Land”).
A fan of the female form just like her younger sister, Mila posed for Playboy back in May. “I love sexiness; it isn’t a bad thing. I did Playboy because they’re not shooting nudity anymore. People were actually mad because it wasn’t a nude spread. I feel like I’ve taken more selfies that are risqué, anyway.” The decision seemed appropriate for Mila J as her style often exudes a naturally confident sex appeal, something evident in her music as well, particularly the two Dopamine tracks “Drippin” and “Body”.
According to the songstress, the highlight of the shoot was her “accidental nip slip”. She panicked a little before the photographer reassured her about the magazine’s fairly new “no nudity” policy. Regardless of that moment, the singer is on board with the bra-less movement that’s currently influencing fashion. Despite her mother’s opposition, Mila says, “I always hated bras growing up because they irritated my skin.”
And while she wouldn’t reveal the name for fear of “rare pieces going missing”, Mila J informed Billboard that she enjoys shopping at a thrift store on Melrose Avenue. “I usually tend to go there because I love finding one of a kind pieces.”
J says that she “was in the zone” when recording Dopamine and was inspired by Dr. Daniel J. Levitin‘s book This Is Your Brain On Music. “I [believe] that my music and my image go together, so to speak. I feel like people judge me based off a few pics on Instagram, but they don’t know me,” she said. “I like to show that versatility in my music. It kind of throws people off when you reveal different things about yourself.” She also opened up about her appreciation for the strong presence of black artists, like herself, who are “experimenting” with electro-R&B, ending on the note of “I love SZA’s new record [CTRL]. I think it’s dope. It’s got soul.”
As far as her favorite cut on Dopamine, Mila J claims that “it changes every week,” but at the moment, the crown goes to the opener, “No Fux”. “I haven’t done a grand piano ballad — it’s really timeless.” When she’s not in the mood to mop around to that tune, she opts for the high energy and runway-ready jam “Transform U” or the simmering closing track, “Bonfire”. “That song always makes me feel happy. It’s like when you wake up on a Sunday, open the windows and start cleaning. It has this warm feeling.”
Check out Dopamine below: