Twenty88 – The STiXXclusive Review

Relationships are stupid, and here’s why – because they just are. The end.

Okay, not really, but they can be from time to time and when it comes down to how they tug at your emotions and are demanding in every which way possible, there are times where either side looks at each other like “this is stupid.” It’s justifiable in every situation to say it, because they can be, and this album provided by the tandem that is Jhené Aiko & Big Sean, proves my theory. These two are not the best artists in their respective genres of music, but I am a fan of both of their works, because of the music that they put out that resonates with me personally (Big Sean has had more misses than hits in his post-Finally Famous days). When the two have come together, they have made great music, because the chemistry has been there from the jump. Even when Jhené has worked with Key Wane (Mirrors), who is a main collaborator with Big Sean, she has fit great with that sound, so it only made sense that this surprise album came to be with these two. I wouldn’t have expected it to be anything short of good. Maybe not great, but good music (no pun) regardless.

What is the basis of this album, you ask? It’s about a dysfunctional relationship and the tales of both sides that explain just how each party feels about the situation. There are many situations in which people go through, and they were highlighted. In Déjà vu, it’s the reminiscing of what used to be, and hoping that there would be that time where it would come back into fruition when the timing was right.

“Whoa it’s been 3 years
I can’t believe that shit, it’s crazy
Where does the time go, you just had a baby
You had a new man, and you just separated
Back on the scene and you already faded
No shame in that girl, you need the escaping
I’m trying to recycle the time you’ve been wasting”

Timing is everything. I’ll say again, timing is everything, and when the timing is off, it really affects the momentum within a relationship and how it plays out. It’s a make or break situation that is key to sustaining or breaking a relationship. There are always two sides to the story, and how Jhené & Sean trade verses back and forth to explain their reasoning behind the situations, you can sometimes picture yourself in their shoes (depending on the type of relationship you may have currently or in the past) and nod a few times like “yep, I can relate.”

One thing that definitely caught me off guard was the strength of the production all over the album, and Selfish is one of the best beats on the album that really screws your face but you can’t help to groove in the same light.

“No call, no text, huh?
That’s how you feel when you stressed, huh?
You know I’m from a tribe called questions
I need them answers now like it’s test time
Do you realize how many good girls I lost
When I changed the number for you
When I needed that peaceful sleep and still cuddled for you
You ain’t even know when times get hard I bent up the budget”

There’s hardly any satisfaction when two people are genuinely looking out for their own personal interests, and so signals can get crossed, miscommunication appears, and then it’s all bad. On one hand you have Big Sean who has appeared to have been the model man and down everything right after dropping the world for Jhené, and then Jhené on the other hand is saying “yeah, but…” because it isn’t just glitter, sunshine & rainbows. It’s a classic case of ‘Somebody Lyin’, and in this reality-TV infested world we live in, it plays out perfectly (in some degree) with the drama you can’t stand to watch, but can’t bear to look away from.

“And you wonder why the past has changed us
Wonder why it ain’t the same for us
You keep fuckin it up it’s all on you
You just made it so hard for you”

Outside of the bickering, there’s the intimacy that is sometimes inescapable, and that leads to the yearning of wanting that physical touch. The sex, if you would. On The Way, Push It, and 2 Minute Warning are those songs that you look at your phone and it’s just like “man…I swear to God…” you don’t want to make that call/text to come through, but then a power greater than you can control takes over and you just life with the mistake later. The intention is to get the rocks off immediately. It’s fine. We’ve all made decisions we didn’t like, but it’s necessary. The beat for ‘Push It’ is sensational, and I’ve constantly ran it back repetitively, because obviously it had to be the shortest song on here (come onnnnn). K-Ci & JoJo appearing on ‘2 Minute Warning’ was random, and I mean it wasn’t a bad thing, but I don’t feel as though they enhanced the song to the point of giving off a distinctive ‘WoW’ in it.

Speaking of portraying that reality TV vibe, Talk Show was really a gem of a song because of the format in which it was presented in, where you have Sean & Jhené as big time stars who air out their grievances for the world to see (can’t wait for the feats of strength).

“What’s the difference between real love and fake love
The same difference between real titties and fake ones
You can feel the difference
And even though it changes overtime
It stays consistent, I ain’t gonna lie though, It takes persistence”

Again, this is another case of ‘Somebody Lyin’ because where you have Sean spilling out his feelings and whatnot, Jhené on the other hand, drops the truth bombs, and has Sean trying to recover and do what most men do when confronted by a situation – talk too much. You can’t over-explain, but that’s what happens when you get caught off guard, although Jhené knows that she was in the wrong as well. I don’t know why she didn’t rap her verses though. That sort of took away from the song and what could have been, but the presentation was still good. It creates a conversation about being more upfront about the issues that either side deals with, and hopefully with that dialogue, creates more trust and then the positives may follow. It also speaks to the Love & Hip Hop era of how the general public views these celebrity couples as entertainment, because they get a kick out of living their lives vicariously. It creates turmoil to a certain degree, but it’s like a magnificent train wreck most can’t turn from, as stated earlier.

“How we supposed to face our problems
If we can’t even face to face it”

Memories Faded continues the reminiscing theme that was highlighted in the beginning, because through the arguments, the sex, and the wtf moments, there are still the good times where the bullshit didn’t spew left and right, that were cherished, and they would usually supersede the negatives. However, it doesn’t always work that way, and all you’re left with are memories that only escalate when you’re alone and the intoxication sets in. I wouldn’t know about the intoxication part, but I’m well aware of the being alone with your thoughts part. It isn’t great, and especially if one person has already moved on? Oh, it’s all bad. You don’t even want to go down that path of petty, but it happens.

I know that Jhené is the best singer out there, let’s get that clear. Her strength isn’t in her vocal range, because she’s very airy in her delivery and possess more lyrical strength than vocal, but her performance on London Bridge was beautiful. You know when you’re a child and your mother is singing sweetly to you as she rocks you to sleep? That’s the feeling I get when I listen to her on this song. Not saying that it’s boring to the point where I want to drop asleep, but it’s so damn soothing, it doesn’t make any sense.

“I don’t mean to sound hysterical
But baby if you left, baby if you left
It’ll be a historical disaster”

That’s pretty dramatic, but it’s like that sometimes, because who the hell wants to break up? Break ups suck. But sometimes it’s necessary because what’s the point of staying in a situation where it just evolves into you disliking the other person? That’s not healthy, and especially if you have general feelings for them, you at least want to go out on a note that isn’t on the same level of fiery rage.

What if this was the end and we had to bow out together
I need you to tell me every emotion like now or never
Only two times I ever needed you was now and forever
Don’t know what else to tell you”

This album came to be a surprise, but it was a pleasant one, although the context within the songs may trigger unpleasant or unsuspecting memories of old and thus proceed to asking questions that start with “Why” or “How.” Big Sean & Jhené showed off why most people thought they should have been dating to begin with, and that chemistry definitely gave off in the right light, although it was a bitter end that it came down to. It shows us that we’re all human, we all experience emotions, and that opening up to them, to each other, is a healthy practice that should lead to better relationships to some degree. If it isn’t there, then it’s all for not. I do appreciate the good music that was put forth, and it can certainly hold its weight down the line of time, because it was spontaneous, but the collaboration between the two is organic and that usually leads to good things happening, which can last a good amount of time.

The short film that they put out (Out of Love) does more to tell the story within the album, so that’s another way to get you into listening to it. Either way, it’s a project you should hear and is one of the better works to come out in 2016, which hasn’t been disappointing at all.

But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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