“Breathe through it. You are here.” These are one of the many messages Jhene Aiko gives the listener in her 2017 album, Trip. From speaking on the state of the world to the state of herself, Aiko takes us with her through the grief of losing her brother and trying to find him—as well as herself—again.
We are shown through hypnotic tracks such as “Lsd,” “Sativa” and “Psilocybin (Love in Full Effect)” how the use of different drugs influences the path she is traveling down. Granted, it is easy to see just by the title as well as the album artwork how big of a role these drugs played. Aiko’s experience with these hallucinogens went hand in hand with her self-discovery and spiritual awakening. She bears through the grief of a lost loved one and a lost romance. She looks into herself and finds the hatred, trauma and anger that had resided there her whole life: “Been dealing with this venomous rage/ since I was under the age, I’ve been under the influence of hate.”
Farther down this path Aiko is taking us, we see the “rock bottom” in the lush and echoingly dark sound of “Oblivion (Creation).” On this track, we can hear the wail that is too familiar to our hearts: “There’s no loving without losing, there’s no living without bruising.” We feel this pain alongside Aiko until the unexpected lilt towards the end, where she takes us to an entirely new realm: “But now that I’m alone, I can hear the spirits talking.” We’re then introduced to smooth lulls of spiritual jazz where Aiko’s father, ‘Dr. Chill,’ gives phrases of wisdom that signify the beginning of a healing.
What makes this album so unique is the vulnerability and strength of it. Aiko opens her heart up and shares the experiences so many women can relate to. We understand the pain, the love, the shadows. The healing. Coupled with the electric, otherworldly R&B and emotionally powerful lyricism, Trip teaches the greatest lesson of all: to love, and know that there is love. In the words of Aiko, we are all “closer to the connection.” And she is, indeed, on her way. If you are looking for something full of beauty, then we definitely encourage giving this album a good listen.