R&B singer/songwriter Jhené Aiko recently released a semi-autobiographical film she wrote with Tracy Oliver, titled Trip. It is a 23-minute exploration of main character Penny’s reaction to the world in the aftermath of the death of her brother.
The story follows Penny as a stranger convinces her to leave her life of contemplation and desperate search for peace to take a road trip. The change in scenery and added company upset the balance in her life, turning over stones previously unturned. This resulting agitation presses on her mind, leading Penny to search for a release through mind-altering substances and other forms of merrymaking, eventually upsetting her travel partner. Through the experience, Penny learns that sometimes the best thing you can do is to let go.
The pain that Penny feels is poignant, and the film captures that well. Original poetry and music serve to narrate the noise crowding the mind of the often despondent Penny, and an animated segment featuring a yellow cat produces in the viewer a visceral observation of Penny’s mycological adventures. The honest vulnerability heard on Jhené’s albums Sail Out and Souled Out is here, and the visual depiction – shifting from gray to dark to light tones – travels with the story, pulling the viewer deeper into the depths of Penny’s experience.
In Trip, Jhené explores the parallel inward and outward journeys we take following a major shift in our reality. It is perfect for people with poorly functioning lachrymal glands, and particularly relevant to those of us who experienced the loss of a sibling relatively early in life. Overall, Trip is another way to hear Jhené’s art, engaging on multiple levels, and profoundly human.