Jhené Aiko released a 90-minute suprise album entitled “TRIP”.
We have been awaiting Jhené Aiko’s return to music for quite a while now. It seems like she ghosted, barely releasing any solo material. Other than forming a duo called TWENTY88 with her lover, Big Sean, she herself has been relatively quiet; not releasing an album of her own since 2014. With so many female acts releasing consistent work in her absence, she was almost forgotten. Lo and behold, she has made a completely unexpected return. She has returned with a story to tell. During these years she has realized many aspects of her reality. Whether it be love, drugs, or the lost of her brother.
Aiko decided to surprise her anxious fans, but it wasn’t exactly in the form of new music. It was a film called Trip, which is the claims the same name as her album. The film capsulizes self-discovery and personal purification. Aiko’s character in the film uses the name Penny, the nickname that was given to her by her grandfather. She takes a journey of a man who reminds her of her late brother who passed from cancer in 2012. During the film, Aiko makes it clear that the lost of brother took a part of her she has yet to recover. Her character repeatedly self-medicates herself with pills, which instills drama later in the film. The pain she tried to numb grew even bigger.
Hell is not a place, Hell is not a certain evil, hell is other people
Or the lack thereof, and their lack of love – Jhené Aiko on “Jukai”
The following night, Jhené Aiko released her long-awaited sophomore album, TRIP. It’s by far her most vulnerable and self-reflective project when you take a look back at her discography. Lasting an hour and twenty-five minutes, it takes patience to listen to it in its entirety. All of the songs are generally slow-paced, which is generally Aiko’s style, but the album’s multiple layers are what keeps it intriguing. Jhené Aiko is known for her soft, feathery vocals, but when she sings of heartbreak, pain, and loss it finds its way to pierce the soul. It also has plenty moments of joy, love, and grace.
She starts the album off with “Lsd,” a harrowing intro that introduces Aiko in a state of grief. Like a lot of her problems, she turns to drugs to nullify the pain of the sudden absence of her sibling, Miyagi. Of course, death is one of the worst issues to combat with drugs, especially LSD. Take one glance at the tracklist and you will notice a recurrent theme. Many of the songs relate to drugs in some matter with titles such as “Sativa,” “Overstimulated,” “Ascension,” “Bad Trip,” and “Psilocybin.”
After a couple cute songs featuring her lover, Big Sean, Aiko really gets into the nitty-gritty of love dependency on “When We Love.” It ventures into the state of needing somebody or something. In the instance of love, Aiko feels complete. As you listen to this album you notice is quite aware of her outside forces. She knows love and drugs can eventually hurt her.
The album is atmospheric with many synths and subtle horns. When you just listen to the instrumentals, it could ease you to sleep. But if you pay attention to Aiko’s story through her lyrics, it will have you travel through multiple emotions. It switches up a couple of times. On “Bad Trip,” she’s in a horrendous state of panic. Her world is crashing down and she no longer able to use love or drugs to hide from the pain of losing her brother.
Often it’s difficult to tell when she’s talking about her lover or her brother. That just signifies how close her bond was with him. Later in the album, she speaks of her love for her daughter, Namiko, on “Namiko’s Love.” Her beloved daughter also has featured vocals on the track. It’s an adorable song that will most likely end up being for of the cutest moments in music in 2017.