Jhené Aiko: Trip

Jhené Aiko has graced us with an album of a journey through yearning for real love, spiritual and self-reflection, genuine feelings and reactions from someone who has experienced losing someone close to them. This is something some of us can deeply relate to. It was released on September 22 and includes 22 tracks with three freestyles, eight features, and raw scenes of her emotions at the end of some songs. Paired with a beautiful, heart-tugging visual short film that tells the visual story of her love, mourning, and heartbreak turned healing, Trip proves to be an "out of body" experience for both fans and the artist herself. [Be advised that hard drug use is apparent in both the album and film.]

"There’s so much in life that’s out of our control. If we sat around and waited for the perfect conditions to create some good sh--, we’d never get anything done.”

Dante spoke these words to Jhené when they first met, in Jhené's short film, Trip. Jhené opens up about the loss of her brother, Miyagi, in this short, 23 minute long movie. The deep, emotional connection she has with him, it’s unimaginable how she’s survived this long without him in her life. The movie includes bits and pieces of her new music to back up the story she is telling. It includes a road trip that Jhené goes on with a random guy she meets. The name “Trip” comes from the literal journey she has taken from grief to acceptance after the loss of her brother. It’s hard to imagine the struggle she has had to endure while trying to overcome this loss. It’s as if her brother took a part of her with him when he died. It’s hard to watch her try to cope with it by using drugs, and treating this guy so poorly.

She fights her own happiness by comparing every single moment she has with Dante, with her brother. She’s creating her own sorrow by dragging other people into her problems.

“Look Dante, I just don't have the space to love anyone else right now.”

These are the words Jhené speaks as she breaks Dante’s heart. She’s filled her heart with only love for her brother. She’s high, dancing with other men in the club when Dante responds that he will give her the space she so desperately needs. Jhené continues her trip, visualizing that her brother is standing in front of her. She finally gets a chance to have the conversation that so many people wish they could have with a loved one who has passed away so suddenly; the “goodbye” that you never get a chance to say. Jhené tells her brother that she’s afraid that she will forget him if she doesn't let him go. Her brother tells her that he’s stuck in the “in between” because she refuses to move on, and he’s afraid that she won’t ever make the decision to continue living. He wants her to live her life to its fullest. He tells her to go home, where she wakes up on her couch and chooses her journal over her drugs.

“It ends how it begins, my friend. Until we meet again.”

These are the words Jhené ends the film with, as she smiles to herself. She has finally chosen to move on with her life, which I assume begins her journey to acceptance. There’s a lot of grief in this world. It’s hard to accept the inevitable, but it’s the life that we must live. Everyone dies, but it’s how you respond that matters the most. Will you live for them? Will you live your best life before your time comes to an end?

What do you dream about doing in your lifetime? Do that, and do it well. It’s the legacy that you will leave behind that truly matters.

 

The album opens with the track “LSD,” where she remembers her brother that died in 2012 after fighting Cancer for two years. That vibe carries on into “Jukai,” where she expresses her feelings of being lost and going through the motions and not even minding it.

 “While We’re Young” begins the love song streak as one of the cutest "fall in love and run away while not caring about anything but each other" love song. Released earlier in the summer, this was one of her singles that was also paired with a beautiful music video. Aren’t songs that make you feel lonely just the greatest? The next song, "Moments " features Big Sean, who Jhené is currently dating. You can hear their love through this one; all of the moments that they enjoy spending together, in the midst of all of the madness in their lives. Their love shines through all of the crazy events because it truly is only the now that matters. "OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive)" is the next track on the album and also features Big Sean. It's an upbeat love ballad about young love. It reminds me of Lollapalooza, a music festival full of energy and free spirits. 

After her love song streak, we hear things turn to heartbreak, which causes her to turn to drug use. “When We Love” … Drugs and love seem to become equivalent to her, and she gets tangled up in it all. At the end of “When We Love,” we hear her boyfriend introduce her to a drug called "Sativa", which is the title of her next song. 

My romantic heart wants to believe that “New Balance” is Big Sean’s love song, simply because it's just so darn cute! She describes a love that she’s never felt before and doesn’t want to ever stop feeling, and even says the guy reminds her of her brother. “New Balance” is followed by “Newer Balance,” a freestyle and extension of her thoughts of being in love, turned to hoping that it’s genuine love and not her being played, which continues into “You Are Here.”

“Never Call Me,” partly produced by Cashmere Cat, is Jhené finally getting to her “men are trash” track, speaking on an ex that lacked essential communication skills and screwed up their relationship.

“Nobody” gives us insight on how Jhené feels as though she needs no one and relies on drugs to get through things. It concludes with a timeline of her emotional decline and an increase in drug use and self-isolation.

“Overstimulated” and “Bad Trip” coincide with each other, acting as metaphors between her relationships and drugs. First describing an experience with drugs and overdoing it, then carrying on to explain how she went on a bad trip, which can be both with a relationship and actual drugs. Both songs close with raw scenes of her experiencing hallucinogenic pain from these toxic situations.

"Oblivion" is another downer on Jhené's current trip. Jhené is trying to enjoy life, but it isn’t genuine. She’s attempting to be happy in her newfound fame. She feels like she is creating problems in her life that she isn’t able to fix. I'm sure a lot of us have those days where we wish we could go back in time and fix those problems, or relive our good days. This is a really trippy song, with Dr.Chill giving us 70s vibes towards the end. "Psilocybin (Love in Full Effect)" is bringing us towards the more upbeat songs on the album. This is the longest song on the album, giving us a look into the real trip Jhené is enduring. It bounces back and forth between upbeat and drawn out. She is giving us a visualization of the thoughts she is probably having while high. "Mystic Journey" is a freestyle where Jhené talks about her connections to her lover and her destiny. They clearly align, in her mind. She wants to reach this point in her life, where there isn't any suffering. It flows perfectly into "Picture Perfect", the next song on the album. 

"Picture Perfect" is an intimate song expressing the emotions that still cut deep about her brother. She still misses him, and perfectly expresses how she keeps his memory framed in her head through pictures. Anyone who has lost someone can relate to this down to a T, but even if you've never lost someone, you can still feel it deep.

"Sing to Me" is a beautiful duet featuring her daughter Namiko Love. It's such a cute rendition of mother-daughter relationship including the line "Namiko did you know, I'm in love with being your Mommy!" The next song, "Frequency", is pure poetry. Jhené is speaking to us all. Her child, her lover, her city, herself, we all need love. Tell someone you love them today, you never know what someone’s going through behind closed doors.

"Ascension" is like a fairy tale, princess story kind of song. I can imagine Jhené and Brandy in a field of lilies, dancing and singing. “What are you trying to prove?” Ask yourself, what’s your purpose? Both of their soft, melodic voices flowing together like water, it’s magical. “I’m on my way, I’m on my way, I’m on my way if I can make it out of this hell. I know I can and I know I will.”

"Trip" is the final song on the album. We’ve clearly reached the end of the trip and my favorite line, “On nights like this, I write.” It’s been a real journey for Jhené. She talks about the long trip and how it will follow her for the rest of her life. She wants to climb out of this darkness she’s been trapped in. She’s searching for a savior, but really she needs to save herself. “Love pays, but love taxes.” Mali comes in with a really mellow voice as he repeats the chorus with his own spin. This upbeat, powerful song leaves us wondering.

Photo Credit: Tumblr, Tumblr