When Big Sean and Jhene Aiko announced the formation of their project TWENTY88 a few days before April Fools day, I was cautiously excited. The idea of two of my favorite artists expanding beyond their solid collaborations seemed too good to be true but thankfully Friday arrived with a prompt message from Tidal announcing the duo’s EP. With amazing music being released every week it can be challenging staying on one project for too long but this EP has been on repeat since it dropped on April 1st. I have no immediate plans to press stop on the impressive release and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I’m ready to tell you why you should give it some love.
Sean and Aiko celebrated the announcement of TWENTY88 by landing the cover of Flaunt Magazine’s May issue. The duo discussed the need for music that focuses on relationships and they didn’t disappoint with their contribution. Both artists have been hard at work with upcoming solo projects and this EP feels like it was made out of general interest for the music. While you can find some potential hits on here, I like hearing the growth of both Aiko’s vocals and Sean’s wordplay more than a collection of radio-ready chart toppers. The self-titled EP plays through the cycle of a relationship as it begins on a high note and ends on the most depressing low point…but we’ll get to that sadness later.
When we start on “Deja Vu” Sean and Aiko are setting up the backstory where love was bound to happen when the time was right. Cam O’bi and Key Wane craft the laidback production with layered drums that give the track a nice knock. Love can end as quick as it begins as the duo take the perspectives of a couple’s tense conflict on the next track “Selfish”. TWENTY88’s chemistry sounds so effortless and I like how Sean and Aiko’s music styles work so well in this song. From Sean’s punchlines as he tells Aiko he can’t trust her when they aren’t together. Or Aiko using her beautiful voice to call out Sean for being ungrateful, both parties make strong causes as they go back and forth. Sometimes we take our significant others for granted and forget that no one is irreplaceable (I’m ready for #B6 whenever you want to stop the world again Bey). “Selfish” is definitely one of my favorites off the EP and if you haven’t seen their Jimmy Kimmel performance of it, I’d recommend it but let’s get back to the story.
After the tension fades, the passion ignites and the duo is ready to bring that heat to the bedroom. On the playful mid-tempo cut “On The Way” Sean announces “I been working all night now I need to hear you call my name” while Aiko returns the favor with some bold statements of her own, “I don’t need nobody else / Oh you got me on the wave / Yearning for your loving baby / I need that shit everyday.” The captivation only gets stronger with the very sensual “Push It”. Their upcoming music video short film will have Sean and Aiko playing adult film stars, incorporating a 70s aesthetic and robots. While the idea of robots looking and becoming more human is creepy AF, songs like “Push It” will definitely make an entertaining soundtrack for the visual piece.
K-Ci & JoJo and Detail join the duo for the next track “2 Minute Warning”. Aiko’s vocals have never sounded better and the guest features are a nice addition to the soulful chorus. Sean’s quick bars are perfect with the bounce feel of the production. At first I wasn’t 100% sure I understood the title of the song. Is the 2 minute warning giving notice that shit is about to go down so be prepared? Or are the jet setters too busy for a full out session so two minutes will have to do? I don’t know, all you need to know is the song slaps.
“Talk Show” instantly became my favorite song off the EP after the first few listens of the EP and I don’t want to give away the story for this one. I’ll just say the concept of using a talk show to air out their issues and dirty laundry is not only very entertaining to hear but such a dope concept to think of playing out. I can’t wait to see a visual for that one as well. After Sean and Aiko have their reality tv moment “Memories Faded” comes through and it feels like the ride is sadly coming to an end. As the duo reflects on the relationship, it’s sad to be at the end of the journey but good music comes from heartbreak. Aiko ends the EP with “London Bridge” and I truly don’t want to hear it come to an end.
In the past I wasn’t a big fan of EPs. Seven songs didn’t feel like enough but this recent surge of creative, album-quality EPs has me very interested in this shorter way of giving music to the fans. TWENTY88 feels like a passion project and I would love to hear Big Sean and Jhene Aiko create more music together. Their chemistry is undeniable. The concept of the EP was the perfect fit to their sound and the relationship-like image they give off together and I’m excited to see what else can come from this EP.
Score: 5/5 Sex Robots
Must-Hear Tracks: Seriously all of them…
What do you think of TWENTY88’s debut EP? Let me know in the comments!