with guest writer Brianna Stallings

     TWENTY88 is the newly formed hip hop duo composed of singer-songwriter Jhene Aiko and rapper Big Sean. They announced their collaboration at the end of March, preceding the release of their 8 track EP, also titled, TWENTY88. According to Jhene, this EP was what the music industry needed "right now" as it is a whole project catering to the feelings of "real" relationships, while avoiding "trapping and bragging" themed songs. The album narrates "the story of the highs and lows of a relationship, with insights into conflict, memories, love, sex, and more." 

     When I first learned that the two were collaborating again but this time on an album, I became excited. However, upon the album's release exclusively on Tidal (which, by the way, I refuse to subscribe to),  I was highly disappointed that you could not stream it on Apple Music which forced me to buy it (I was unaware that this exclusive release would last only 4 days before you could stream it on Apple Music).

BRIANNA: At first listen, I was immediately drawn in by "Memories Faded" because I could relate to it. One of my past relationships was very similar to the song. Other than that I pretty much was disappointed listening to two monotoned people rap and sing about relationship problems. It wasn't until they released the 15-minute short film, "Out of Love" that I fully grasped the concept of their album. Twenty88 is a whole relationship from start to finish, venturing through happiness, jealousy, sex, and arguments covered in 8 tracks. I began to really listen to the lyrics of each song. It took a minute for it to grow on me but I think they did a fanatic job and everyone should give the album a listen. 

KENEDRA: First, I was confused on why this 4 day Tidal exclusive was necessary. That turned me all the way off, which in fact dimmed my excitement about the entire collab. I actually love Big Sean's monotonous rap style and the way Jhene's soul pierces through her music; the thought of a collab between the two seemed dynamic. At first listen, I only heard catchy beats. At second listen, "Deja Vu," "On the Way" and "London Bridge" were my top 3, still due to catchy beats. At third listen, I finally heard lyrics. "Deja Vu" describes the reconciliation with a former flame after three years of separation. Sean calls her out on her actions during their separation but reminds Aiko she still had the best sex. Aiko jumps at the chance to remind him of the shit he put her through during their first run through. "On the Way" describes the salacious yearning for one another.  "London Bridge" describes a love that "had" to be and if it fell a part, it would be equivalent to the historical fall of the London Bridge. 

     Let me be frank. The problem with this EP is not the short track list as much as it is the difficulty experienced receiving the album's vision. Nothing was seemingly significant about any of the tracks until you forced yourself to dissect the lyrics. It is the lack of vulnerability absent from each artist's lyrical delivery that make this fantasized relationship hard to believe. The content is there but the album neglects to make me FEEL the music. I definitely agree with Aiko; this style of music is much needed right now as it's becoming a memory faded (Rap and R&B collabs that delve into deeper issues than money, weed, and heauxs);  I'm just not convinced she and Big Sean were the team to do it.

What did you think of the album?

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