A Psychedelic ‘Trip’ with Jhene Aiko

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It’s been three years since Jhené Aiko entranced us with Souled Outand now she’s back to take us on an introspective journey through love and loss, with help from some enlightening botanicals in her new 22-song album, Trip.

If you imagined the most celestial, enthralling, gentle voice you can think of, it still wouldn’t compare to the sounds Jhené incorporates in this album. Her unique, dynamic style and signature sound enchant this album and the haze of her voice wafts past the boundaries of R&B.

Her atmospheric tone is coupled with heart-wrenching vulnerability in her lyrics. She has openly discussed her struggles since losing her brother in 2012 and continues to pour her loss into this record. In “Jukai,” she even touches on the idea of suicide, exploring her admitted curiosity of death. The track ends it with a mysterious man’s voice who seems to talk her off of the edge.

Hopefully, the voice is a sign of some level of peace she has gained either through trying to search for her brother’s guidance through her grieving or her boyfriend, Big Sean. She describes Big Sean as her soulmate and even says that he reminds her of her brother, who she has admitted to looking for in all the men she’s dated since his passing.

One of the most captivating parts of “Trip” is the artistry we get to see them craft in their collaborations. In “Moments” and “OLLA,” the couple gives us a taste of their love and the magic they make (in the studio, of course) that has likely helped Jhené through her loss.

The best aspect of this album is her ability to so clearly walk listeners through every twist and turn of her trip. From the ethereal vibe of “While We’re Young,” to the smooth groove of “Sativa,” Jhené has a sense of sound and lyricism that allows her to float our emotions over every dynamic wave of feelings she has trodden.

She brings listeners to the highs of her journey with “Overstimulated,” and then airs out and lets us come down with her to songs of closure like “Ascension.” Short exchanges with the voice throughout the album and a noticeable change in thought from beginning to end clears the smoke. It also leads listeners to a sense of peace at the end of “Trip,” after she searched for it in drugs, relationships, and her own mind.

After over an hour of being lifted through Jhené’s psyche, listeners take out their headphones with a feeling of emotional intimacy. She emerges out of the depths of her sorrows dripping musical gems with every track on the album.

Verdict: Jhené Aiko has a sound and an execution in her work that is all her own. Her storytelling is gassed up into an immersive, sublime body of music that displays her rich lyricism with every word. Trip is an intoxicating album that has left an endeared tear in the envelope of R&B.

Grade: A

Best Tracks: “Moments,” “New Balance,” and “Sativa”