Jhené Aiko on Releasing Her New Poetry Book '2Fish' & Her 'Trip' Album Going Under the Radar

Jhene Aiko
Cassidy Sparrow/Getty Images for Samsung

Jhene Aiko attends her TRIP exhibit powered by Samsung at Faena Beach Dome on Dec. 5, 2017 in Miami Beach, Fla.  

"A notebook has no opinion; it doesn't talk back or judge you."

Albert Einstein once said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." As a fellow Pisces, Jhené Aiko aligns with that same simplicity in her poetry.

Penny, a nickname given by her grandfather as a kid, completed her MAP (movie, album, poem book) trilogy of projects in 2017 with Tuesday's (Dec. 19) release of 2Fish: (a poetry book), which is now available online at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Powell's store websites, as well as limited Urban Outfitters locations, for $14.95.

Speaking exclusively to Billboard over the phone, Aiko described her writing style, "As a poet I like to keep it simple. I think that there is depth in simplicity. I feel like there's genius in simplicity. I don't try to use words you don't understand. At the same time, it's very personal and very much so comes from my heart. It's really my thoughts on paper."

The 29-year-old continued admitting writing has helped her release certain emotions she'd held inside in the past, "Writing has always been my way of dealing with emotions. I'm a very emotional person. A lot of times, if I talked to someone about all the different things in my head, they would think I'm crazy or judge me. With a pen and paper, you don't have to deal with that. I understand myself and it's a release for me -- it helps me get through things."

The poetry book is a compilation of untitled poems that Jhené started at the age of 16 until now, displaying her growth as a person and layered personality. The inspiration behind the project's natural cover art was simple, "I'm a Pisces, which is represented by two fish going different directions, and I feel that really sums up my personality," the talented songstress added, "I'll be 30 next year, so I just thought I was transitioning into another chapter."

2Fish's release is accompanied by a world-wide book tour, kicking off Tuesday night (Dec. 19) in Los Angeles and making stops in New York City, San Francisco, Paris and London. Writing has always been a cathartic escape for the Trip artist, and she hopes to inspire others to express themselves with a pen in the future.

"I hope it gives them a better understanding of who I am, as well as encourages them to write through their difficult moments in life," she says. "We're all going through something, and the hardest battle to win is the one from within. A lot of times, we're encouraged to forget about those negative thoughts and distract ourselves with drugs and entertainment, rather than expressing it. We need to find more ways to deal with depression and mental illness." 

Courtesy Photo
2Fish by Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo

Each project this year played a role in the healing from the loss of her brother, Miyagi, who passed away back in 2012 due to cancer. Aiko wants fans to connect with her core, while witnessing her most vulnerable state. "I really feel that Penny is me," she says. "It's really me at my most vulnerable and at my core. Jhené Aiko is my name. Literally my first and middle name... it's really scratching the surface of me, whereas Penny is actually hearing my thoughts, secrets, worries, hopes and dreams."

After expressing her creative ability through multiple avenues, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter still feels her second studio album went under the radar for most of the music world, admitting, "I feel like with [Trip] -- I was working so long on it and there's so many layers to it -- it did feel a little like, 'Oh, hey, no one noticed all the hard work I put into it.' At the end of the day I have to check in with myself and ask why do I really make music? What is really important to me? I feel like the things I read and the things I practice and the person I want to be -- it's not about the accolades and attention."

Jhené continued to expand on a recent tweet regarding Trip's critical non-recognition: "Because I'm in the business, it's something you want and have a desire [for], to be nominated for a Grammy and be at the top of everyone's list. I just have to realize that with the path I'm on, those things aren't important. It feels good to be acknowledged and have your hard work celebrated. It's a humbling experience that I've dealt with for many years. I'm probably the most humbled person in the world."

The "Sailing NOT Selling" artist finishes off her Trip Tour with an intimate show in Hawaii after Christmas, (Dec. 27) before resuming through the first quarter of 2018. The mother of one also stated she will always have material to offer up to fans, but wants to focus on giving back in 2018, "Next year I'm going to focus on just giving back and being out in the world helping people. Who knows what that entails?"

When asked if another TWENTY88 project with Big Sean could be on the horizon, Aiko swiftly teased, "You know what, you never know. Right now I'm on tour until March. I'm going through that 30-year-old thing and I feel like I'm in a transition. I write music, songs, and poetry so there's always going to be material for me to share."