PERALES: Jhene Aiko sets herself apart with ‘Trip’

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The album name says it all: “Trip.”

Los Angeles artist, Jhene Aiko took listeners on a trip through her life struggles with her new psychedelic-inspired rhythm and blues sounds. Aiko stepped out of her boundaries and set herself free from typical R&B music. Instead, she developed unique and profound lyrics.

After Aiko’s older brother Miyagi passed away in 2012, the singer said that she was overcome with grief. Aiko turned to psychedelic drugs, traveling and music to help her through this difficult healing. “Trip” puts forth the ways she overcame this grief and sense of hopelessness.

Aiko commenced her album with the song “LSD” which revealed Aiko’s fondness of the psychedelic drug that helped her connect with Miyahgi’s soul. Aiko said that the drug keeps her connected to her brother when she sings, “Everything you said I shouldn’t do, but those things bring me closer to you.”

On “Jukai,” perhaps the most impactful song of the album, Aiko solely traveled through the Aokigahara forest, located in the northwestern part of Mount Fuji and has seen a high suicide rate. She hopelessly made her way down to the forest and insisted no one bother looking for her. Through this song, she envied the dead, and wanted nothing to do with life anymore. As Aiko walked down the same lonely path where many others took their own lives, she discovered something. She stepped out of her body and viewed life from her brother’s perspective. Suddenly, she realized that she should carry on with her life despite her struggle. The singer found salvation in the most unexpected environment. The message was powerful.

“Trip” includes a variety of collaborators such as John Mayer, Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee and Big Sean, Aiko’s boyfriend. The couple collaborated on the mellow “Moments,” where they openly described how the love they have for each other allows them to live in the moment and savor life itself.

Aiko discovered many paths toward salvation that she hopes others going through similar struggles discover as well. Although these paths may be seen as taboo by society, Aiko does not care. The artist said she strives to save troubled souls at all costs.