Tag Archives: Jhene Aiko

The Break Down – Trip x Jhene Aiko

jheneLong overdue, let’s break down Jhené Aiko‘s most recent album release: Trip, a plunge into a deep unknown with everything we love about Jhené’s music, from drugs and dark thoughts to twisted desires and dream vocals.

Before we dive into her subconscious together, we need to take a look at the artist as a whole. Jhené Aiko was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, California and comes from a musical family. Her R&B career began in the early 2000’s but she emerged after finishing school in 2011 with the mixtape, Sailing Soul(s). The tape was life changing for me; tardy as usual, I discovered Aiko in 2012, when I was a moody high schooler with little interest in anything besides music, being misunderstood and altering my reality by whatever means were available. The smooth mixtape features high profile names like Miguel, Drake, Kanye West, Gucci Mane and Kendrick Lamar as well as a versatile selection of beats.  For a taste of classic Jhené flow, listen to Stranger from Sailing Soul(s) on Soundcloud here.

Flash forward 5 years, after dropping the EP Sail Out (2013) and the album Sailed Out (2014), she releases a joint album in 2016 with babyboo Big Sean, as they introduce the world to the duo of TWENTY88. If you’re like me, you may have liked this self titled collaboration a little too much (I won’t disclose frequency… but, lets just say I have posted a criminal amount of Snapchat clips reciting the skit from Talk Show word-for-word).


That brings us to the present and, lets be honest: there has been nothing predictable about 2017. And so in light of her beautiful, mutually height-challenged relationship with Big Sean and the success of TWENTY88, I have to admit I was skeptical of new music from Ms. Aiko. Would it carry through her usual honest sound? Was this a project for fellow happily cuffed individuals? In the past, like many others, I have depended on Jhené for dark, raw, twisted, freaky and quite frankly depressing music, and I selfishly feared being unable to connect to whatever 2017 has done to our lovely lady.

Welp, we can cut that weak worrying crap out righhhttt now —

Trip, is a masterful compilation of 22 songs that tell a story of “Penny” an alter ego based off a childhood nickname from her grandfather. In September of this year, Jhené dropped the album out of nowhere along with a short film and collection of raw and biographical poetry. The short film is ironically enough, directed by Tracy Oliver, a writer for the film Girls Trip who, an article on Jhené for NYLON says, “She’s a brilliant writer and storyteller,” Oliver is quoted. “I was really impressed with her ability to float between so many different mediums with ease: songwriting, poetry, and screenwriting.”

Throughout almost all of her music, Jhené mentions the loss of her older brother Miyagi, and Trip is sculpted from pain of losing him to cancer and the period of self medication she underwent to numb the memories and heartache, hence the references to various hallucinogens and psychoactive drugs. Whether you’ve tripped in any fashion or are still scared to take more than the instructed dose of headache medicine, there’s no way not to connect to this vibrant and diverse collection of freestyles, collabs, love songs and long tracks.

“Came all this way to escape all our problems
Came all this way just to break every promise
And do
Everything you said I shouldn’t do
But those things bring me closer to you
So the other night, I
Took a tiny piece of paper and put it under my tongue
This white guy said it’d be fun, and it was, but
What I saw
Oh my God
Oh my God” 
Track: Lsd

Since you don’t actually need to be on acid to partake in the music, I highly recommend taking a listen for yourself. However, 22 tracks can be intimidating and there are even a few intro’s and songs with seemingly multiple versions, so I highlight a few individual songs to get you started:

  • While We’re Young — A single that dropped a little before the full album, this song sounds like the moments you realize you’re falling in love with that crush. Yeah. It’s sweet, and fun and has a melody that begs to be listened to with the windows down riding past the beach at sunset. Let down your guard and fall for this song.
  • Lsd — A short song that seems to be a message to her brother, in which she details the events leading up to her trying LSD, it ends with a twist and the lyrics enough can hook you into the rest of the album.
  • Sing to Me (feat. Namiko Love) — If you think Twitter and Instagram are dangerous places where cute pictures and videos of beautiful babies are out to get you, knowing full well you can’t afford a child… Might as well press skip. This beautiful ballad features actual vocals from Jhene’s daughter and simple soul touching lyrics. Don’t get any ideas, though. Baby fever is highly contagious, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  •  Psilocybin (Love in Full Effect) [(feat. Dr. Chill)] — This spooky track is that classic combo of sexy lyrics and mystical beats that will have you in a trance. The song has various parts to it, and is a bit lengthy but if you treat it like the experience it is, you might catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be on the drug the track is named for.
  • Other favorites: OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive), Overstimulated, Moments (ft. Big Sean), When We Love, New Balance and the almost hymn-like and tranquil Frequency.

All in all, the album was a pleasant surprise for me, and while I don’t always let it play through without skips, it’s found its way into my usual rotation and I cannot say I’m disappointed. As a Jhené fan, I can say (with zero authority whatsoever), that this is an album completely necessary to her discography and evolution as an artist. Aiko will leave a legacy as not just a sweet sounding feature but an artist in every sense of the word, a mother and a victim of the pain of the world. Trip is yet another exhibition of the ability of humans to take the darkest things afflicting us and transform it into love and beauty and music that we can all experience. And let’s face it, we could all use a little trip considering the current state of affairs.


Hope you enjoyed this break down. Now go break down, roll up and press play.


Back from my hiatus with something new. So many albums have been released this summer, but we can’t forget about those who aren’t mainstream. I feel like Chrishan’s TieDye, Pt. 1 was slept on. That entire project is full of hits. Eli Sostre is on the rise, right along with X Factors Arin Ray, and Mabel bringing the 90’s R&B vibes; I’m praying they keep on succeeding. Be sure to click that link and check back ever Friday.




Making His Mark, In Marker

His hashtag is searchable, with almost 5,000 hits on Google in half a second. His art covers his walls and crosses timelines across the country. Celebs and artists alike have been eyeing the handiwork of 22 year old, Travon Greer a talented Chicago artist with a passion for sharp shapes and Sharpies. His work features Egyptian, Oriental and pop culture icons and themes, bright and glow-in-the-dark colors, and mesmerizing hand drawn patterns. Greer features the greats from Kanye to the ancient goddess Isis and back to Kid Cudi. His work is hard to miss, and if you’re sleep now, you won’t be for long.

(Shmay) Q: When did you start drawing and why?

(Travon) A: I would say I started drawing my freshman year in high school. I took an architecture class in which we had to draw out floor plans and random other stuff, but that wasn’t really drawing to me. I started my style of drawing in 2013 when I was at Kansas State. I started drawing to help relieve me of stress, it was just something that eased my mind when my thoughts were clouded.

One of the most admirable things you can notice about Greer as an artist, just by scrolling through his Media tab on his twitter (@xTRVONx), is that he is consistently producing work. As simple as it sounds, consistency is what separates talent from success and progress.

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Q: What motivates you and keeps you focused?

A: The thing that motivates is the satisfaction of finishing a drawing. The process of putting my thoughts and feelings on paper soothes my soul for some reason. Its a great feeling to be able to show people the type of imagines and ideas I have in my head.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and what does it mean for you to be one?

A: My favorite artist in any field is Kid Cudi. I have a bunch of favorite visual artists like Basquiat but its too many to narrow down. At first, I never thought of myself as an artist, I just wanted to be able to represent my thoughts on paper because its easier to me than talking. It means a lot to be an artist because you can just be expressing yourself and without knowing, you can be inspiring people to be creative as well.

Jhene x Travon
Usually the other way around, Jhene has heart eyes for these xTRVONx originals.



Some very important people are falling in love with what Greer is producing.


Q: Is there a reason marker is your go-to medium? Interested in any others?

A:  I use sharpie because it was the only thing I had to use to add color to my pictures, when I first started drawing. I know there are way better markers to use than sharpie but I’ve used sharpie for so long I just prefer them now. I do want to experiment with painting though, I feel like once I teach myself how to paint I can really create some crazy art pieces.

Q: Egyptian themes are heavily present in your work, what else inspires you?

A: Besides Egypt, I get a lot of inspiration from music. Artists like Kid Cudi, Kanye and Travis Scott inspire me to push my creative boundaries.

Q: Favorite musicians? Who’s currently on your playlist?

A: Kid Cudi, Travis, The Underachievers, Chance The Rapper etc. And I’m listening to Thouxanbandfauni right now.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone aspiring to take their art seriously or follow in your footsteps?

A: The advice I would give other artists is keep creating and never stop. The more you draw/paint the better you get. Once people start to see your progress, more opportunities will open up.

Q: Do you have a goal for your work/art/brand for this summer or this year?

A: One of the main goals I have this year, is to get involved in more art shows. I’ve only been in 4 art shows and that’s not a lot at all but I’ve set myself up in some up coming events so I’m already off to a good start.

Speaking of  events, for any Chicago readers or those who can make the trip, you can catch more of Travon at the Art, Mimosas, and Pancakes Exhibition on July 8th, at Mad Art Gallery in Chicago.

Art is an individual’s documented reaction to existence
– Chance the Rapper

Check out more of Travon’s work by stopping by his website or following him on twitter and peeping his hashtag (@xTRVONx and #xTRVONx, respectively). His work has been distributed on shirts, rugs, prints and he’s been commissioned for album art featured on Apple Music. Hit him up for commissions and orders, RT, and support if you can. On top of dope music opinions, event updates and more of his work, Travon has even in the past had a couple giveaways of his most popular prints.

travon 3