Jhené Aiko is hardly in the business of cranking out hits. Perhaps an 85-minute concept album makes her something of an anachronism, but it’s exactly what keeps the Los Angeles enchantress at the vanguard of R&B. On her 2017 studio album, the singer-songwriter expands on the atmospheric aesthetic established on her mesmerizing 2014 debut, Souled Out. Along with her faithful producers Dot Da Genius, Fisticuffs, No ID, and Key Wane, Aiko invites a diverse group of collaborators to help her navigate this expansive journey of self-discovery. While Trip dives deep into psychedelia, it’s not an exercise in escaping reality but rather an all-consuming look into it. On the LP’s glistening opener, “LSD,” Aiko slips a “tiny piece of paper” under her tongue and plunges down the rabbit hole. Throughout the album, her trips—the good, bad, sober, and drug-fueled—are laden with emotion, making the ethereal production even more beguiling. On the gentle folk reverie “Jukai” (a reference to Japan’s “Suicide Forest”), Aiko flirts with death. “Made it out alive,” she chants, her voice floating into the ether. Later, on “Nobody,” she’s popping pills and reciting her life’s most meaningful events over a narcotic groove. “I’m here in this hell that I don’t want to live in,” she sings with a listless lilt. But it’s love that keeps lifting her higher—on tracks like the woozy romance ballad “While We’re Young,” the retro-cosmic club romp “OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive),” and the intoxicating bedroom groover “Sativa,” featuring Swae Lee. Her collaborators weave in and out as if guest stars in a lucid dream: Big Sean complements her candid come-ons on “Moments,” John Mayer injects a dose of acid-soaked guitar into “New Balance,” and Brandy floats in like an angel on the twinkling lullaby “Ascension.” As on Souled Out, Aiko’s inward explorations are still most inextricably linked with family. Her daughter, Namiko Love, returns to the mic for the sweet duet “Sing to Me.” Meanwhile, her father, Karamo Chilombo (a.k.a. Dr. Chill), slides in like a venerable sage on the album’s trippiest tracks, the jazz-infused doozies “Oblivion (Creation”) and “Psilocybin (Love In Full Effect).” On the latter, he shares the epiphany that comes with many a mystical trip: “We’re all from the universe soul. We’re all one.”

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