‘Chilombo’ Is A Vibe

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Last week, Jhene Aiko put out her new album Chilombo.

The 20-track album is very ruminating—thoughts of love, pain, loss, hope and freedom from negative energy. Chilombo is at times somber, then melancholic, then sexual — with features from artists like Nas, Future, John Legend, Ty Dolla $ign, Ab-Soul and Jhene’s speculated beaux, Big Sean.

“Lotus,” “Triggered,” and “None of Your Concern” speak of hurt and betrayal. In songs like “B.S.” featuring H.E.R., Jhene reclaims her life and exercises her freedom and autonomy. The R&B bop “P*$$Y Fairy (OTW)” is pretty self-exclamatory. “Happiness Over Everything” is a remake of a track featured on her first notable mixtape Sailing Soul(s). Where she really shines is in melancholy.

For anyone sad or wrestling with life’s demons, you intuitively know that melancholy is not necessarily a bad experience. Melancholy has a self-reflective and empathetic quality that can be just as cathartic as joy; knowing that if you are low, the only way to go is up, like in “Born Tired” where she refrains “tired but I’m fired up.” When we are sad, sad music is what cheers us up. Her music is often blue — which some associate with sadness, but it is also a color of peace, tranquility and cool calm.

One critique of Jhene’s music is her albums generally have a very similar type of sound and vibe.

But what fans enjoy about her music is the vulnerability. She doesn’t hide the scars, and has a level of transparency that is refreshing. Jhene is kind a metaphor for our lives, imperfect but beautiful. It’s a struggle—flipping between searching for purpose and waiting for a miracle like in “Magic Hour.”

You hear the shift going from the intro track to songs like “LOVE.” She is in a better space, working to break vicious cycles—which is all any of us really want in our lives.

Like Souled Out, Chilombo is more of a prayer than a party. It’s a good album. Musically, it may not be something you play over and over, but it will definitely feed your spirit. Chilombo is a good vibe.

Joshua Adams is a writer and journalist from Chicago. UVA & USC. Taught media and communication at DePaul & Salem State. Twitter: @journojoshua

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