‘Trip’, Jhené Aiko’s September release, adds a psychedelic twist to the R&B style that she is well accustomed to. The visual illusion of the album cover is enough to make someone feel like they’re on a drug induced trip. Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics of a very innovative album that is inspired by the passing of her brother in 2012…
“Came all this way to break every promise and do
Everything you said I shouldn’t do
But those things bring me closer to you, yeah” – LSD
Analysis: The entire song, LSD, is about Jhené using LSD in an attempt to reach the heavens and speak with her deceased brother. Ironically, in order to reach the heavens she has do something that her brother warned her not to do, use drugs.
“… hell is not a place
Hell is not a certain evil, hell is other people
Or the lack thereof, and their lack of love
And their lack of love
I tried but my feet kept touchin’ the ground
If I died would it even make a sound in the sea of trees” – Jukai
Analysis: The idea that hell is other people comes from the Buddhist Second Noble Truth. The Second Noble Truth states that the origin of suffering is attachment, specifically, the desire to have or desire not to have. This can be interpreted to include the attachment that one may have to other people. A great deal of suffering and pain can be created when human beings lose someone who they are attached to. A suffering and pain that some may even equate to being hell-like.
The Sea of Trees, a well-known suicide forest in Japan is referenced. This place is sometimes called the Jukai which is the name of the song. Jukai is also the formal initiation into the Zen Buddhist way.
“You came through with that sativa
Indica be havin’ me stuck” – Sativa
Analysis: For all those who aren’t familiar with different types of marijuana strains, there are three: Sativa, Indica, and hybrid. Indica is more physically sedative and relaxing while Sativa has an opposite impact, leaving the person feeling more energetic.
“Crushing the line, cutting the line
Crossing the line
Bumps in the night, got me, got me over
Here over” – Overstimulated
Analysis: Crushing and cutting a line are typically used to describe breaking down drugs, like cocaine.
“Let there be no doubt
Sage, means sagacity and intelligence
That’s why the indigenous people
To bring out the wisdom” – Oblivion
Analysis: When I first heard this song, I thought that a woman was doing the speaking in the outro, but it is actually Jhené’s father, Dr. Chill. While the two were not close during her childhood, they have grown closer in her adulthood. This part of the song comes from his contribution to the outro. Definitions are so important when you want to contextualize something and better understand it. Every time I heard this song I wondered what sagacity means. Sagacity is an acute mental discernment and keen practical sense. Sage is believed to have many mental benefits. Therefore, by the logic of Dr. Chill, the burning of sage can help one achieve sagacity.