Jhene Aiko’s 22-track ‘Trip’ to enlightenment

'Trippy' album art depicting themes for surprise release album 'Trip'

image made available by Jhene Aiko

‘Trippy’ album art depicting themes for surprise release album ‘Trip’ image made available by Jhene Aiko

Julia Maldonado

A tribute to Jhene Aiko’s brother, Miyagi, who lost a two-year battle with cancer in 2004, “Trip” is the answer to the search for healing Aiko needed. The surprise release of her first studio album since “Souled Out” in 2014, “Trip” is the 85-minute sophomore album accompanied with a bonus 23-minute movie that journeys through her experimentation with love, drugs, solitude and inner reflections following the loss of her brother.

Excerpt from a moment of self reflection in the film:
Are you in the stars?
Is there a god?
Do you walk with them?
Is He a She?
Is She a me?

The film is a beautiful production, which includes the highlights from the album, but with acting and poetry prose. The plot begins with Aiko playing a woman that falls in love amidst a turbulent emotional life. The association between her lost brother and her romantic lover causes chaos and confusion. Above all that, she’s high. Jhene always returns to an emptiness caused by her brother’s absence. Through these creations, she is able to heal and find resolve from her loss.

The film captures Aiko’s message of healing painful memories through her poetic verses more effectively than her album. The album runs through many different themes that aren’t entirely related unless it is depicted in a film. Composed of 22 songs, the message was bound to get lost in the shuffle.

jhene aiko
‘Trippy’ album art depicting themes for surprise release album ‘Trip’
image made available by Jhene Aiko

The album begins strongly with the intriguing “LSD” and “Jukai,” which are effective in leading up to the album single “While We’re Young,” the strongest piece from “Trip.” The two songs that follow feature Big Sean and TWENTY88, the official Big Sean and Aiko duo. TWENTY88 is the collaboration duo, which is different than the feature. In “OLLA” featuring TWENTY88, the album is introduced to a new ’80s love inspired beat.

Overall, the standout songs include:

  • “While We’re Young”
  • “OLLA”
  • “Never Call Me”
  • “Overstimulated”
  • “Bad Trip Interlude”
  • “Picture Perfect Freestyle”
  • “Trip”

From a musical standpoint, “OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive)” and “Trip” proved exceptional in the shift from Aiko’s old style of music. Songs from “Souled Out” can be quite comparable to her previous hits, which begs the question as to how far she can she go as an artist musically.

Although a great work of art for those that understand Aiko’s message. The album contains more than enough songs that maintain the same sound from “Souled Out.” The lack of variation in sounds would keep my ear uninterested if it weren’t for the beautiful poetic verses.

[3 out of 5 stars]

Alejandra Solorio can be reached at [email protected] or @alesolorio8 on Twitter.