Jhene Aiko Credit: Rich Fury

In July 2012, Miyagi Chilombo, older brother of LA singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko, died of a brain tumor at the age of 26, following a two-year struggle with cancer. Aiko’s recent trio of creative projects, which she’s bundled under the title MAP (for “movie,” “album,” and “poetry”), chart her path through her grief. In September she dropped the first two, a short film called Trip and a 22-track album bearing the same title, through Def Jam, and in December she followed these with a book of poetry, 2Fish, through Ulysses Press. On the album Aiko maintains an austere composure amid the fog of tragedy that pervades many of the glum instrumentals that fill it; her yearnsome vocals leave the impression that no matter what she’s encountered she’ll be able to persevere by finding strength within herself. Many of the tracks bleed together through the album’s gossamer atmosphere, but Aiko condenses so much feeling into each song it’s easy to get stuck in a single moment as it comes—such as when her quasi-rapped verses skip atop skeletal, pitter-patter percussion on “Overstimulated.”   v