A Love Letter To Jhene Aiko & "Souled Out" (Album Review)

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Don't tell Beyoncé this, but Jhené Aiko is slowly climbing up the ranks of my music crush list. Still, despite writing Mr. Lucas Aiko in glitter pen all over my Trapper Keeper, I needed something to send my love from borderline, unhealthy obsession to definitely real, unhealthy obsession. It was my hope that her new Souled Out album would be the project that made her more than just a #wcm for me; I couldn't fully commit until I was sure she was the one. So, is her music enough to inspire true love or just another fleeting fling? You'll find the answer in this very personal love letter I wrote to Ms. Aiko.

Just to be clear, I'm not (super) insane and crazy. I know Jhené and I aren't actually dating, but considering the thematic content of the album, I couldn't help but treat Souled Out as a step in our relationship. When you think about it, how we connect with artists is a lot like real relationships that go through ups and downs, hot periods and cold periods. So, instead of a standard review, I thought I should treat this review like it was a real relationship that wasn't totally made up in my head. After all, the relationship I have to her music is completely real. 

Ok, let me get out my pen and let's do this...

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Dearest Jhené,

It's been an amazing year and a half since I first laid eyes and ears on you and your music.  Ever since that moment, there has been a slow, brooding passion in my heart.  We have hung out occasionally, especially in the summer, listening to Bed Peace, and you helped me with late night drives, kept me company when I was cleaning, and got really, really high with me. I wouldn't call it love, since our relationship was so new, but it was definitely special.

Still, throughout all of that our relationship has been very causal. To no fault of your own, you haven't done enough to really keep me coming back for long periods of time; maybe we aren't the soul mates I had hoped. While you are refreshing and have a new feel, I'm just not sure you're exactly my type. I'm sure some men and women don't find your pining over exes tiresome and redundant and are willing to just take it because the way you do it is interesting, but not me. I need more from my relationship than worrying about past lovers.

On occasion though, I find myself thinking about you and calling you up. When we hang out its great, but it comes in fleeting sprints. I see the potential for a serious relationship. I do. There is something about you, something which make same keep coming back. At times you show an amazing spark, plus all those Tupac references make my heart flutter, but there are a few things that get in the way.

To be blunt, you talk about your ex (or exes) a lot; and it's becoming too much. I'm all for being open and honest about our relationships, but enough is enough. I need some diversity in subject matter.  While your passive aggressive tone and ambivalence splashed with a seething dab of vitriol makes for a great song, "Lyin King"; for example, over the course of an album it becomes sort of redundant. While not all our conversations are like that, the subject is more or less the same, and it makes both "Lyin King" and any similar conversation we have ("Brave" for example) less impactful because its seems to be all we talk about. No relationship should be formulaic and sadly, though it's new, I am already unsurprised by what you bring to the table. Where's the excitement and spontaneity?

My hope was that you had put it behind you, especially with such a bright road ahead and so much going for you. Everyone is allowed time to mourn lost loves, but it seems you are stuck in a rut, or a lane if you will. Sometimes I want to party, sometimes I want to hang out with friends, or maybe just kick it. It shouldn't have to be late night visits and heart to heart conversation all the time. You show your range in terms of where we hang out, the club (the bass heavy "Live and Die"), the beach ("Spotless Mind"), or just sitting in the park having a picnic on a sunny day ("Blue Dream"), but the dialog story is the same. Sometimes you want me to commit ("It's Cool") but then the next conversation is about how mad you are at your old lover. If you want us to progress you have got to get over him. You have too much to offer to sing the same song time in and time out.

Maybe it's me, maybe that's who you are and our relationship will only be these fleeting days, weeks, or months where I seem to call you more than others. You are the total package and I could see us growing, but needless to say there are more than a few things in the way.

Once you get over your ex, maybe we can take this relationship up a notch, but until then, don't expect any long term commitment from me.


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[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]

album reviews
Jhené Aiko