Review: Big Sean & Jhene Aiko “Twenty88”

I should have known Big Sean had something in the works after he dropped Get My Shit Together on his birthday. Jhene also released a video for B’s + H“s about a week ago.  In Big Sean: The Underdog, I declared 2016 as his year to rise higher in hip hop and show how much of a threat he really is. April is about to be hit with a lot of anticipated music releases and Big Sean and Jhene Aiko get a head start with “Twenty88”.

After seeing the promo videos and reading their interviews with Flaunt and Hip Hop DX, I was ready for the EP. I liked their chemistry on “I Know” off of Dark Sky Paradise so I was interested to hear what the duo came up with on this project.

Twenty88 features eight relationship based tracks that tell a story of the ups and downs between lovers who are no good together. Big Sean and Jhene Aiko trade off their honest perspectives going back and forth on verses as they take us on a journey about love, relationships, lust, destruction and break ups. The production ranges with’70s influence, ’90s R&B and trap beats involving producers Key Wane, Detail, Tommy Brown and Da Internz.

The smooth sound of Deja Vu opens the album with two exes reconnecting (perhaps, for a one night stand?) and catching up with one another. As Big Sean takes cheap shots about all the things Aiko has been doing since they broke up, she fires back with lines “wasn’t doing shit but running around the D/ Rapping nothing but them motherfuckin’ Swisher Sweets”. The reminiscing on the first track leads to the couple venting about all the things they hate about the other on Selfish. Jhene Aiko and Big Sean shine on these songs because they’re not afraid to be vulnerable and speak their truth when it comes to relationships. On the Way details only one thing on your mind after a long day: sex. Big Sean gets nasty on his verses while Jhene keeps it sensually explicit. The album gets more sexual with songs like Push It  and 2 Minute Warning and the duo doesn’t hold back with lyrics like “I know you love it when I’m on top/ Gotta keep it going, baby don’t stop” (Jhene Aiko) and “Get you off, turn you on yeah I’m the only one that can activate you/ So good girl I couldn’t one night stand you, you know I had to date you” (Big Sean). Did I mention 2 Minute Warning features vocals from K-Ci and Jojo? It’s not all about the sex when listeners get to Talk Show and the pair starts airing out their dirty laundry. When you are finally about to accept that maybe this rollercoaster relationship isn’t meant to be, Memories Faded and London Bridge slows things down and the couple reconciles when they realize how much they mean to each other.

Hottest songsPush It, 2 Minute Warning, On the Way, Memories Faded
Weakest songs: Selfish, London Bridge

Out of the 8 tracks, I like about 5 of them. Twenty88 is a project you probably thought you wouldn’t be interested in until you actually listen to it. The fact that there’s only 8 songs is just enough for you to appreciate what Big Sean and Jhene Aiko created. The chemistry the artists have with each other is natural and the collaboration between hip hop rapper and R&B singer brings back a formula that has been missing.  Tracks like Push It and 2 Minute Warning demonstrate the magic the two can produce while Memories Faded is bound to be a favorite break up song among the public. With the main focus of the EP being relationships and love, listeners will find themselves locked into the story Twenty88 conveys.

Twenty88 is available for a four-day stream on Tidal and can be downloaded on Apple Music. You can also check out the “Out of Love” short film the duo put out which features snippets of Twenty88.

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