Chills from Jhené Aiko’s ‘Chilombo’

Erica Talley Volunteer [email protected]

I’ve always thought that when an artist creates a self-titled album they have either honed their craft, healed from past situations or have made peace with the universe or their version of God. For Jhené Aiko, it may be all three.

She has mastered the art of healing her audience through lyrics and integrating singing bowls within her third studio album. In fact, this may be her most relatable album to date. Aiko’s third studio album contains features from some of the most recognized artists of this generation such as Big Sean, Future, H.E.R., John Legend, Miguel and many others, including her father: Dr. Chill.

The album opens with “Lotus (intro),” which seems to be an ode to love stories everywhere. However, it takes a quick turn and ends with the fierce line “The beast awoken…” before it transitions into her first single of Chilombo, “Triggered.” This song brings a wave of emotions to anyone that has been heartbroken and those who never received closure within a relationship. She belts the lyrics, “You need to stay out of my way…” and several of her fans would agree that the song has inspired some of their tweets and Instagram captions.

For the third track, “None of Your Concern,” we are greeted with the first collaboration on the album. The collaboration is with Big Sean, and if you are a fan of Aiko, you may already know that they have a whole collaboration album called “Twenty88.”

In “None of Your Concern,” the duet focuses on the aftermath of a painful breakup and acceptance within their souls despite all of its various painful aspects. Big Sean’s verse boasts with emotional yet sexual energy, and you cannot help but to replay the masterpiece. The song then smoothly transitions to the self-confidence anthem “Speak.” Aiko’s voice lets us know that she needs no one’s opinion about her choices in life, especially after a relationship—whether it be romantic or platonic.

The fifth track features the Grammy-award winning artist, H.E.R. She and Aiko both boast lyrically, “Flexing on my exes in my Model X.” However, it may make you emotional when Aiko states, “Don’t know how to love me.” This may allow listeners and fans to understand that the album is a journey to self-love and self-realization.

The sixth and seventh tracks, “P*$$Y Fairy” and “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.),” channel Aiko’s older work and remind us that the artist can sing extremely sexual lyrics in the calmest manner. Not to mention that “H.O.E,” is a rendition of a previous song that she collaborated with Miguel on her debut mixtape, “Sailing Soul(s).” It now features the renowned rapper Future alongside Miguel and Aiko. Future opens the track with his mesmerizing rhymes.

On “One Way St.,” we are greeted with another rapper with stunning lyrics by the name of Ab-Soul. The beat is spellbinding and the lyrics are catchy as hell. Aiko confidently repeats, “Going the wrong way on a one-way street.” “Define Me (Interlude)” is a mystical journey into what seems like the unknown. The beat is whimsical and plays with your heart strings.

It is rare that I, as a listener, wait for a collaboration. However, when it came to the father-daughter combo of Aiko and Dr. Chill, I was counting down the days. In fact, on Aiko’s previous album, “Trip,” they had two collaborations.

In the captivating song, “Surrender”, Aiko ensures us that, “I write all my sh*t, you know I’m all about my publishing.”  If you ever questioned Aiko’s songwriting credibility, then that ought to stop you right in your tracks. The song closes with Dr. Chill’s spoken word, which seems to lull you into a peaceful state of mind.

Track 11, “Tryna Smoke”, is a fun and entertaining track with a softer “I Got 5 On It” energy. With an old school vibe, you cannot help but to bop your head to Aiko’s calm voice. “Born Tired” has been on repeat since the day the album dropped. It is an ode to everyone who has been through it all both mentally and physically. It inspires listeners to not give up despite their challenges.

Toward the end of the beautifully composed song, listeners can hear Aiko’s voice singing, “I’m tired, but I’m fired up.” I don’t know about you, but that gives me enough hope and inspiration to survive upcoming finals and life in general. “LOVE” begins as an upbeat acoustic poem and ensures us that Aiko is more than her emotions. It is a reminder that life will be just fine as long as her actions are done with love.

“10k Hours” is another collaboration on the album featuring Nas. This song is an ode to anyone who has lost someone in their life. I must say that it is one of the more emotional tracks on this album. “Summer 2020 (interlude)” is a continuation of the song, “10k Hours.” This track lets us know that it is okay to grieve, no matter how long ago the loss was.

“Mourning Doves” is a beautiful composition that reminds listeners that it is okay to try love again—whether it be with the same person, or a new person entirely. The singing bowls can be heard clearly at the end of this track and will lull you into a state of peace.

“Pray for You” is the ultimate breakup track. It shows maturity on many levels. If you learn anything from this track on Chilombo, then it would be how to react after a painful breakup. Aiko sings “Never will I ever not wish you well,” and it has echoed within my mind since midnight. This is not a lengthy song, but Aiko makes sure we get the message. She also reminds listeners that sometimes less is more.

The slow jam, “Lightning & Thunder,” features the soulful vocals of John Legend, and it is one for the books. The guitar solo and bass are exceptional, and I have to applaud the way their vocals emote the lyrics. On the song, “Magic Hour,” we are greeted with another spellbinding track for the ages. Aiko repeats the magical phrase, “It ain’t perfect, but everything’s beautiful.” The closing track is the most upbeat yet the most emotional. Aiko makes listeners promise to, “party hard for me when I’m gone.”

It is the most emotional track due to her mentioning chilling with her late brother, Miyagi, and her late grandfather, Grandpa Teddy. I believe it has that emotional tone because we, as humans, do not want to think of death.

Despite the emotional web that this track catches you in, it also contains some memorable lyrics such as: “Do it for your girl in commemoration… Look, Ima need y’all dancin’… And when you cryin’… don’t stop cryin’ till you laughin.”

Ty Dolla $ign comes in and makes sure listeners get the message that we should all party while we are still here.

This album receives 5 out of 5 stars. It is and will remain an amazing piece of work and has been replayed on my Apple Music account at least 11 times. I think Aiko has matured gracefully as an artist and she has never let me down.

This album left me on a roller coaster of emotions. The lyrics were something that everyone could vibe to. The collaborations were worth the wait, and the closing track wrapped up the whole concept of Chilombo. If you are a fan of strong lyrics with a poetic flow, this album is for you.