The Pacific Index

Take a “Trip” with Jhene Aiko

Shelby Cokeley

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This fall brings many new albums including Jhene Aiko’s sophomore album “Trip,” exploring her relationship with drugs, romance and loss. Aiko had been out of the solo music scene for the past three years after her breakout album “Souled Out” that established her name in the music industry.

While Aiko has spent time collaborating with love interest Big Sean, releasing an EP together as Twenty88, her solo presence has been missed in the music community. The wait for new songs was well worth it though. With 22 songs including a dark interlude and multiple freestyles featuring Aiko’s own poetry, the album delivers an emotional punch to listeners. Beginning as a beautiful ode to new love and transitioning into a twisted story of drug use as a means of coping, Aiko opens up about her personal life.

After losing her brother Miyagi to cancer, Aiko discusses how she distanced herself from others and slid into heavy drug use. Abusing marijuana and acid as a means to deal with severe depression, the artist felt trapped in her addiction for the past few years. Within the last year Aiko made strides in her mental health, writing poetry and getting back in the studio. Free expression made all the difference.

“Trip” features standout songs like “Sativa,” “Overstimulated” and “Oblivion” that play to Aiko’s pure vocals and gift for classic R&B. Although the track that best encapsulates Aiko’s pain is the single interlude of the album “Bad Trip” which eludes to her loss of self amongst drugs and personal demons. The song features a terrifi ed Aiko screaming in confusion and fear over dark imagery surrounding her. Allowing the listening audience to get inside the corrupted and deeply hurt part of her heart Aiko makes a personal connection to her work few others do.

Nearing the bottom of the track list is “Sing To Me” that features none other than Aiko’s young daughter Namiko. The song beautifully captures the new found peace and salvation the artist has found within her family.

Getting mental help and expressing herself through art once again, Aiko ends her new release looking towards a better future for herself and her loved ones. As if her poetic album release was not enough for listeners, Aiko also crafted a 23 minute short incorporating this new music with stunning visuals.

The video centers around Aiko playing the role of Penny, a woman who has found herself entangled in a new relationship centered around travel with no real destination and drug experimentation. Like Aiko, the protagonist is dealing with mental problems worsened by the loss of her brother. Just as Aiko was able to pull herself out of darkness Penny eventually wakes up from, ironically, a bad trip, ready to take her life back into her own hands.

This pseudo-biographical piece only helps “Trip” establish itself as one of the more meaningful albums to drop as of late. Aiko is back as a musical force to be reckoned with this fall. Her artistic and meaningful album “Trip” can be streamed on platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, Apple music and Soundcloud.

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Take a “Trip” with Jhene Aiko