Jhené Aiko Takes Fans on a Trip

On Thursday, September 21,  Jhené Aiko released her long-anticipated third solo studio album, Trip. She surprised fans with the 22-track album that became available on Apple Music and later in the day on Spotify and her YouTube Channel. This is the 29-year-old’s first solo project since her 2014 solo album, Souled out.

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If you don’t know, Jhené Aiko is an R&B singer and songwriter. Her music career began at a young age when she contributed vocals and appeared in several music videos for the R&B group, B2K. Since then, she has released three solo albums: Sailing Souls (2011), Sail Out (2013) and Souled Out (2014).  The singer has also collaborated with several hip-hop artists including Drake, Chris Brown, Childish Gambino and even released an EP with her boyfriend, Big Sean, called Twenty88 in 2016.

The California native has a soft and melodic voice that she uses to tell her story. Her songs are filled with profound “freestyle” lyrics that convey the tales of her past relationships, family and especially her emotions towards her brother’s death from an inoperable brain tumor in 2012.

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Previously, on Wednesday, September 20, Aiko had released her short film, also called Trip. Fans were directed to jheneispenny.com to view it.  She had been releasing teasers for the 23-minute film on social media since June.

The short film was co-written and co-directed by Aiko and Girls Trip writer, Tracy Oliver. The character Penny, played by Aiko, is first seen sitting by the shore of a beach writing poetry. A male character, Dante, arrives and invites her on his journey and she agrees, despite having just met him. They head out on an emotional journey where we find out Penny is still mourning the loss of her brother, much like Aiko. Penny turns to drugs, introduced to her by Dante, to help her cope with her pain and we see the title, “Trip” acting as a double entendre, which is not uncommon for the singer to use in her work.

The film includes personal poetry and two of Aiko’s most recently released songs: Maniac (2016) and While We’re Young (2017). Other songs that had not been released by the singer appeared as well.

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Aiko also released an emotional mission statement regarding her short film, which can be found on Soundcloud. She explains that “Penny” was a nickname that her Grandfather had given her and it is her in her, “purest, most authentic form.” She goes on to explain how the loss of her older brother, Miyagi, caused her to lose herself. She finds herself taking trips to escape things in her life that are, “too familiar,” and through her travels, she has been keeping a record of her experiences. Now, she has turned those notebooks into a MAP: a Movie (Trip - a short film), an Album (Trip) and a Poetry book (2fish).

Aiko said, “This map was made by me, for me… but I feel obligated to share because I know that I am not alone in my suffering. If there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that every single person on this planet is suffering.”

She closes her statement by saying, “In sharing this MAP, I hope to inspire others to share their grief and pain because I believe suffering can be alleviated when we understand we are not going through any of it alone.”

After watching the short film and listening to her message and songs, it is clear that Aiko poured out her heart and soul onto the pages of her notebooks.

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The album features artists such as Big Sean, Kurupt, Brandy and more. She sings about coping with the loss of her brother and takes listeners on a ride of emotions. She begins the album with the track, also called Trip, and takes fans through the different drugs she turned to with songs named as such, like “Sativa” and “LSD”, and what she went through during this self-medication. She then closes out with songs such as “Sing to Me” featuring her daughter, Namiko, and “Ascension” featuring, Brandy, leaving fans with a hopeful and encouraging message of change.

The poetry book will hopefully be released soon so that fans can dive in deeper to the inner thoughts of Aiko.

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