Jhené Aiko invites listeners on a “Trip”

Jhené Aiko tells a psychedelic story of grief and self discovery on her second studio album “Trip.” Released on Sept. 22, the 90-minute project feels like a kaleidoscopic journey as each song flows right into the next. This isn’t your typical R&B album. It is full of colorful and enticing sounds accompanied by goosebump-worthy lyrics. 

After the death of her brother in 2012, Aiko experienced one of life’s most difficult and trying feelings: grief. Grief cannot compare to any other human emotion. The feeling of joy to have known this person mixed with the feeling of anger that they were taken from you can be confusing. She took her confusion and turned it into a wild ride of music. The album is a mix between poetic trance songs and songs that make you want to roll down the windows and just drive. 

The cover art of the album is like something you would see hanging up in a dorm room in the 1970s, it is trippy to say the least. Along with the album title and a few different song names, the cover art is a clear allusion to something like a psychedelic symphony. This is not what we’re used to seeing from Aiko, but the vulnerability behind the album is what makes it so enjoyable and relatable. Although the album came from a not-so-happy time in her life, the album itself feels happy.

The opening track, “Lsd,” sets the mood for the adventure that is the entire album. The song is almost haunting as it opens with soft wind chimes and synthesized piano. Aiko talks to her brother asking him “How you like it up there?/What’s your view from up there?” The song is a quick yet powerful opener for the album making one think about someone they may have lost.

“OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive)” features Big Sean under his alias name Twenty88. This song transports you to a disco roller rink complete with lights and dancing. There is a solid funky beat in the undertone of the song. The kind of beat that just makes you want to move. The song could survive with the beat alone but the lyrics make it a perfect pop love ballad, “We’re the only lovers left alive / Clearly we’ve been running all our lives to survive.”

The most special track on the album may be up for debate, but “Sing to Me (feat. Namiko Love)” has a strong lead in the running. The song features Aiko’s 8-year-old daughter, Namiko. It’s innocent, sweet, and offers nothing but pure joy to the listener. 

The final song and title track “Trip” is the perfect closure to the entire story. With a feature from Mali Music, the beat is full of deep, synthesized bass and the lyrics are full of hope for a brighter tomorrow. As her soft yet compelling voice sings the chorus “On nights like this I ride, turn the music up to keep from crying, wait ‘till the sunshine/ Please don’t let the darkness keep me low/ Halfway to the home base, yeah/ Like a field trip, woah/ It’s a real trip” you can’t help but feel empowered. 

“Trip” is a whirl wind joyride and different than what we’ve seen Aiko do before. She let her creativity take charge and it shows throughout the entire album. You can see Aiko perform this beautiful piece of work at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on Dec. 1