Jhené Aiko drops her sophomore LP, Trip, literally out of nowhere.

At the start of the week, Jhené Aiko simply dropped a link.

Curious eyes who clicked on it, would be led to a 23-minute film, entitled simply “Trip (The Movie).”  Tracy Oliver (a Hollywood screenwriter whose most recent credit was penning the script for Girls Trip) directed the film and co-wrote it with Aiko. In addition to contributing original poetry to the clip and dedicating it to her brother and grandfather, “Trip” also featured snippets of completely original music from the Def Jam songbird.

There was intent in the words “Jhené is Penny”: Aiko not only played “Trip’s” protagonist, Penny; but Penny’s brother passed away… just like Jhené’s real-life belated brother, Miyagi. And while Penny wasn’t a singer, she was still an artist because she wrote poetry. “Trip,” at its core, is about coping – about dealing with loss, recognizing how you might deal with that loss in the wrong ways, and ultimately seeking closure before you lose yourself.

“Trip (The Movie)” is jarring. It’s heartbreaking in places. And, thankfully, it’s humorous, too (in a dream sequence of sorts, Penny inquires to her brother about Heaven, asking “Is Tupac up there?”). It also had a purpose.

“Turn the music up to keep from cryin’… please don’t let the darkness keep me low…”

Indeed, the short film set up the rollout of Jhené Aiko’s long-awaited sophomore LP, also entitled ‘Trip,’ her first release since last year’s ‘Twenty88’ joint affair with Big Sean and her first solo release since 2014’s ‘souled out.’ A whopping 22 tracks deep, ‘Trip’ is equal parts companion to the short film and a stand-alone, audio film on wax.

Only a handful of features appear on ‘Trip.’ Frequent collaborator Big Sean – both as himself and “with” Jhené as Twenty88 on the ’70s-sounding “OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive) – appears. Brandy surfaces towards the end, as does Mali Music on “Trip’s” haunting title track. Swae Lee flourishes on album standout “Sativa.” Kurupt emerges from the shadows to close out “Never Call Me,” and Aiko’s own daughter, Namiko Love, pops on the tender mother-daughter duet “Sing to Me.” Save Dr. Chill’s contributions to a twelve-minute, two-track suite, the rest of all Aiko on her own.

At 90 minutes long, ‘Trip’ SHOULD feel like a marathon but instead, it feels like a journey. Previous releases “New Balance” and “While We’re Young,” though months old, find new life on ‘Trip’ simply because they pop up at perfect places on the album. Like the album’s artwork implies – and much like the animated trip Penny goes on in the movie – there are moments when ‘Trip’ gets psychedelic, like “Overstimulated” and “Bad Trip.” But it gets personal as well. “When We Love” is a smooth slow burn, for example. “Nobody” is Aiko casting aside all company, all negative energy, and insisting that she’s good existing alone. Even on her freestyles (like “Picture Perfect”), Aiko’s light vocals shine with limited to no instrumentation.

Long though it may be, ‘Trip’ may be exactly what Jhené Aiko’s fans have been waiting for. Stream the album in full for yourself below, and grab it now off iTunes.

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