By: Valentina Henriquez
Is birth control effective? What kinds of birth control are there?
By: Valentina Henriquez
Is birth control effective? What kinds of birth control are there?
By: Jade Jetjomlong
Established in Fall 2013, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning & Allies (LGBTQ) student run organization at John Jay was ready to raise the bar on Safe Zone Advocacy in the college for any who have ever felt out of place or uncomfortable in their own skin or environment.
Sanaly Santiago, a sophomore at John Jay, feels that the creation of an LGBTQ club at John Jay “is a great club to bring to the campus,” and that “there are a lot of students I know who still aren’t confident in their identity and live behind a fake one.”
This years’ team of executives for LGBTQ & Allies includes founding President Jillian Shartrand and Vice President Charlene Javier, alongside new executives Treasurer Michael Romano and Secretary Dianna Serrano.
Current Secretary and John Jay Senior, Dianna Serrano, stated she wanted to become an executive because she saw the old executive team struggling and really wanted to help give other John Jay students a similar experience to her own; a place where she immediately felt relaxed and comfortable.
The organization means being able “to include anyone who identifies in this spectrum in any way and allies, allies are very much emphasized since they’re one of our biggest advocates,” said Serrano.
Upon coming to John Jay College as a transfer, Jillian Shartrand, President of LGBTQ & Allies, noticed the former social identity and equality club, known as Spectrum, was inactive and outdated.
Together, with friends Charlene Javier, and Rigoberto Urqullo, former Secretary, they became the founders and first leaders of the new LGBTQ & Allies, with the mission to unite people of all identities, genders, and sexualities.
The club has recruited over 80 current members in the past year and plans on getting more. LGBTQ & Allies is hosting events to encourage the philosophy of everyone having somewhere to go and feel comfortable to be themselves.
Part of this semester’s plans is to host a “Speak Out” event in October, in order to promote speaking out for your own identity. The event will include John Jay students participating in any kind of verbal art, ranging from singers, to rappers, to spoken word artists.
The organization also plans to host a “Coming Out Week” in November “where gay and lesbian identified athletes will come in to speak and everyone can see people of high profiles who are proud of who they are and can still do what they love and be out there” said Serrano.
LGBTQ & Allies hasn’t forgotten John Jay’s motto, “Advocates for Justice”, either. The club plans on hosting events to cover gender and sexuality as social justice issues, such as gender and sexual assault prevention, and how identification increasingly is becoming a social issue.
LGBTQ & Allies is also an advocate for the JJay #Nolabels campaign, which seeks to end the stigmatizing of individuals.
Serrano, in regards to those who hide their identities and how the LGBTQ & Allies club approaches them, stated, “In no way we’re trying to push any one to come out or publicize who they are, all we want is to create a safe space for them to at least an hour come and enjoy the company and seeing what we’re about and find comfort in being with people they really can identify with.”
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning club at John Jay is here to modernize the safe zone for social identity and equality on campus, to “help people feel more safe in their own skin especially being in a college where you don’t know each other initially,” said Serrano.
John Jay students, such as Santiago, agree with Serrano. “I think this club will help educate the student body as a whole and make the school a giant safe zone,” said Santiago.
By: Jenifer Valmon
On Sept. 21, 2014, New York City hosted one of the many People’s Climate March happening around the world. Considered the largest march in history, an estimated four hundred thousand people processed from 86th street to 34th street, in New York City, including fifty thousand students, according to the Peoples Climate website.
Colorful handmade signs and banners littered the hands of marchers with messages reading, “wake up and smell the pollution, extinction is not success and bring your own bags.”
Support for climate reforms ranged from Buddhist and Christian organizations to medical union, 1199, and thousands of families and friends unifying for change. A large number of these groups gathered in front of the Time Warner Cable building, at 10 Columbus Circle, to rally with chants, songs and prayer.
Organizers created a chart designating sections of the line up to specific groups with people at the “front line” of the crisis first in line, families, students and elders second, scientist second to last and the LGBTQ, NYC boroughs and community groups ending the march.
“You’re going to come up with ridiculous categorizations,” said John Jay Professor Elizabeth Yukins, regarding the arrangement of sections.
Yukins, part of the English Department at John Jay, and director of the college women’s center, attended the march with her partner, 10-year-old son and five year old daughter. Yukins chose her family’s position based on the best place for her children to endure then two-hour wait to march.
Fracking and CO2 emissions are two of the topics at the forefront of the debate. Hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, is blamed for many negative environmental effects, including earthquakes and lack of clean air.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. CO2 emissions derive from the use of coal as fuel to create energy and are believed to be one of the main causes of global warming and extreme weather by environmental groups.
The Energy in Depth campaign, started by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, credits Fracking for the decrease in CO2 emissions in the United States.
This is what concerned Pamela Carrillo and Krystal Inesti, both 19 year old Nassau Community College students, who heard of the event from Facebook. After watching a video on the dangers of CO2 emissions, they decided to get involved.
“This is our home, we’re taking advantage but it’s really going to hurt us in the long run,” said Carrillo of abusing natural resources. Both Carrillo and Inesti’s were armed with signs calling for action to bring a stop to the abuse of natural resources. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need not every man’s greed,” read Inesti’s sign.
Global warming and extreme weather affects the sustainability of underdeveloped countries that depend on agriculture to survive.
Though industrially developed countries are usually responsible for the degradation of the ecosystem, the poorest countries suffer the consequence, ranging from reduced crop yields, rising sea levels and altered rain fall, according to the Inter Action website.
John Jay is not behind on the environmental discussion. The college recently started the new minor and program, Sustainability and Environmental Justice, started by Professor Joan Hoffman, now headed by professor Alexander Schlutz.
The 18-credit program includes courses on global catastrophe and human responsibility, environmental crime as well as environmental racism. According to the programs web page, the minor hopes to educate students on the importance of conserving environmental resources and natural balance for future generations.
The college also has an environmental club. Students can join by contacting Professor Swanson. Students involved with the program also attended the march.
“Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable and stick with it for things you believe in, there is a purpose and a productivity to that…the wait was not pleasant but there was something to be learned from that experience,” said Yukins of the lesson her children received from the march.
By: Ryan Durning
The Athletic Department at John Jay College has overhauled their coaching staff this semester. Six of the 15 teams we have are being run by new coaches, including the men’s and women’s basketball, men’s baseball, and men’s and women’s soccer. These changes were implemented by Carol Kashow, the athletic director who was hired in the spring of 2013.
“When I came in March 2013, that spring I spent a fair amount of time evaluating,” said Kashow in regards to how she approached making changes. “Some teams weren’t having [an] excellent academic experience.”
The ultimate goal of the athletic department, in Kashow’s eyes, is providing a good experience to the student athletes that make up the teams at John Jay. If overall record is what she means in terms of experience, she might be right.
Five of the teams that have new coaches are coming off losing seasons in at least two of the past three years. The men’s and women’s basketball team both went 9-17 overall, the men’s soccer team went 4-14-1, and the Women’s soccer team went 4-15 in their previous season. The men’s baseball team went 7-25 earlier this year.
All told, these five teams have racked up 33 wins and 88 losses combined in the past year which equals a .272 win percentage. College of Staten Island has a .694 win percentage and Brooklyn College, which doesn’t have a baseball team like the other teams do, has a .641 percent. Even the City College of New York had a .410 win percentage and they had only one team with a winning record.
“It was a simple matter of having different philosophies,” said Kashow in regards to the replacement of men’s basketball coach Otis Fenn. “There are a lot of ways to skin the cat, so to speak.”
Kashow repeatedly made mention of making sure John Jay athletes have an excellent academic experience. Coupled with the underperforming year that John Jay teams’ had, replacing almost half of the coaches seems less drastic even if it might have rubbed a couple players the wrong way.
“[Fenn] was here since I first got here so I guess he wanted to finish it out with [us],” said Korede Griffith, a student athlete on the men’s basketball team. “The fact that he couldn’t probably hurt him, but he’s a proud man so he’ll be fine.”
While most of the team said they didn’t have any real problems with Fenn’s leadership, some even went so far as to call him a cool person, they were focused on the future.
“I basically think she wanted to rebuild and he wasn’t a part of the process,” said men’s basketball player Darrell Robinson when asked about the coaching change. “[The new coach] is building a culture.”
Robinson’s culture remark is in reference to the fact that the new coach, Ryan Hyland, has the team doing conditioning and strength workouts already, something that Fenn apparently never had them do.
“He got us doing preconditioning,” said the 21 year old Griffith. “He has us meet together like once a week, it’s a good thing. [Fenn] wouldn’t have had this last year, we wouldn’t have been here.”
Former assistant coach of the women’s basketball team, Mike Williams, is heading up the preconditioning and weightlifting for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
“Coach Molly [Light] and Coach Ryan [Hyland] are very eager, they just want to win,” said Williams. “It’s really a fresh start in the sense that they’re not here to play any games. Coach Molly, her overall goal is to coach D1, she knows that to do that she needs to start winning championships at this level.”
Williams said he believes that Kashow is getting off to a good start, and he stressed that when he was hired he made it clear that it was championship or nothing for him. The new coaching changes aren’t always resulting in a noticeable change towards creating a winning philosophy yet though.
The Men’s and Women’s soccer teams are still underperforming significantly. The men’s soccer team, under the leadership of Bradley Johnson, is 5-9. The women’s soccer team currently has a 2-12 record under new coach Casey Sommers.
Other teams with new coaches, like men’s baseball and the cheerleading squad, won’t have a chance to display a change from last season until 2015 at the earliest. Men’s and women’s basketball starts in November so for now the excellent academic experiences Kashow values are still a work-in-progress.
“I think they got to be more aggressive with it, I know they came in and wanted to change things a little bit slowly. That’s great but then this team is getting left behind, the other teams in CUNY are not making those steps,” said Williams about how the athletic department should proceed from here on out. “They did a great job fixing the gym floor, a fantastic job, but now lets get athletes in the gym.”
By: Rehana Sancho
During community hour on Wednesday, Oct. 9, six students laid under white sheets that were drenched in red paint to symbolize the blood shed in both Palestine and Ferguson, Missouri.
John Jay students and faculty, both shocked and confused, walked passed the six dead bodies, one of which was that of a baby. The Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP), along with other students, staged an eye and ear catching protest against the deadly occupation and genocide of Palestine and the events of Ferguson.
This protest was countered by the flag raising and silent protestors of the Hillel Club, a student organization, whose students represent Israel.
The students of the SJP took turns shouting why their message needed to be heard. Their objective was to overturn the message that American media portrays about the Palestinians and other minorities, such as Blacks and Hispanics.
Each body had a name of someone who has been lost to the “oppression and genocide” bloodshed. These names include, Amadou Diallo, 23, Michael Brown, 18 and Abu Taqiyya, who was only 18 months.
Susie Abdelghafar, SJP president and John Jay sophomore, said, “for 66 years Palestinians have lived under apartheid genocide and oppression and it’s that same oppression that Blacks and Hispanics have to go through here in the U.S.”
John Jay history professor, Anissa Hèlie, stopped to observe the protest and stated she felt like the message being delivered was courageous because it is not a popular argument.
According to Hèlie, “mainstream media is not balanced. I think it’s fair that they are voicing their side.”
The protest won over a few students who ended up voicing their personal opinions over the microphone, signing up for SJP, and even volunteering to hold up signs. Some of the signs read slogans like, “From Ferguson to Palestine occupation is a crime” and “U.S. dollars feed Israeli war crimes.”
Students are speaking of the growing tension between Hamas in Gaza and Israel.
CNN article, “How to Demilitarize Hamas” states, “the problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.”
In opposition to the protest, some students in the crowd sided with the Hillel club, not because of their cause, but because they felt like the Hillel club was being aggressively protested and generalized against.
Hillel club members claimed they only came to the protest to advocate for peace.
John Jay senior, Dor Dourandr stated she doesn’t believe all Israelis are “murderous people.” Also adding, “generalizing leads to more oppression.”
Yael Monselise, John Jay senior and Hillel club president, claimed, “we stand for the same thing, peace.” Moneslise expressed that the Hillel club wants just to find a common ground and that they “want peace.”
According to Monselise, tensions were so high in a Brooklyn College Gaza protest, that a Jewish student was punched. The VP of the Hillel club, Tomer Kornfeld exclaimed, “we are divided in the Middle East, why should we be divided here? We don’t want to divide the campus.”
However, Abdelghafar concluded, “we are not against Jewish people. we are against Zionist. But to fight for peace is hypocritical. We fight for justice.”
By: Aimee Estrada
Club meetings, guest speakers, lunch, socializing, studying, and special events like karaoke; community hour is jammed with competing events. However, every week a few dozen students take to the mat instead. Yoga Wednesdays are back, and this semester yoga classes are being offered on Thursdays as well.
Rachel Shanken, a counselor in the Counseling Department, teaches Wednesday classes in the combative room (T300). Jessica Greenfield, a Women’s Center counselor/gender-based violence prevention and Response Advocate, teaches Thursday classes in the dance studio on the C-Level of the T-Building.
So, why yoga? “What AREN’T the benefits of yoga?” Greenfield asked, “There are emotional; decreased anxiety, decreased depression, lowered stress, increased concentration, improved memory, etc, and physical; strength, flexibility, stamina, heart heath, increased lung capacity, etc. benefits.”
According to the American Osteopathic Association, “The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California, explained.
Additionally, Dr. Nevins said, “regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers attention, and sharpens concentration.”
“My first impressions were how friendly and welcoming the yoga instructors were as well as the ‘yogis,’” Icaro Soares said, a Sophomore and Forensic Psychology major who is new to yoga, “it was a non-judgmental environment which made me feel comfortable.”
Soares was part of the first class, which had a turnout of about 24 students. According to Shanken, turnout is normally around 30 students, however they were competing with karaoke that day. The students were a mix of beginners and more experiences yogis.
For those new to yoga, they can expect “to focus on breathing, moving your body, stretching, and getting your Zen on,” Shanken said. Her advice is to “wear comfortable clothing and come with and open mind.”
“Yoga was more intense than I expected but at the same time very relaxing and I felt encouraged by the instructor to keep going,” said Soares. “I’ve been going every Wednesday and I don’t plan on missing any class.”
The Women’s Center created the yoga program in the winter of 2012. According to Greenfield, they thought, “yoga would be a great complimentary support for students dealing with some of the issues that are central to our mission.” However, at the time there were no trained yoga instructors on staff, but Greenfield said, “we were fortunate that we were able to find a registered yoga teacher who was willing to volunteer to come to John Jay and teach the class on a weekly basis.”
In May 2013, Shanken became certified as a yoga teacher and the yoga program became a joint initiative between the Women’s Center and the Counseling Department. Greenfield became certified in May 2014 and this semester classes are offered on Thursdays as well.
“I would definitely recommend friends since yoga is something that anyone can practice and it is free here at John Jay,” Soares said. “it’s been really relaxing and helping me keep focus on my studies.”
Which is the point, as Greenfield said, “Our hope is simply that our classes inspire students to take what they learn about themselves on their mats and bring it with them into their lives.”
By: Rehana Sancho
On Sept. 17, John Jay students and faculty welcomed with roaring applause, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater where she delivered the second annual convocation speech for incoming freshman, transfers students, along with other John Jay students.
Justice Sotomayor, born in the Bronx, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University and received her J.D. from Yale Law School.
The ceremony began with President Travis awarding Sotomayor with an Honorary Doctorate of Law from John Jay College.
Students awaited her advice as to how she made it from the projects in the Bronx to being the first Latina and third woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court.
Sotomayer, with her small stature, quiet, yet firm voice, and a broken arm which she received from falling on a New York City street, then turned to address the students.
Sotomayor put emphasis on how John Jay College faced challenges in the mid 1970′s when it was almost closed down, but remained resilient in its goal to educate student on the liberal arts. She explained that, although the obstacles faced by the college were big, we had now become “a jewel in the crown of the CUNY system.”
Sotomayor then offered her “recipe” for success to John Jay’s students as she discussed how to improve not only their life, but also the lives of those around them.
First, “Spend every day here creating memories with people you care about.”
Second, “Learn new things and share those things with others.”
Third, “Devote a part of each day doing something nice for somebody else.”
Sotomayor spoke to students about her personal experience. She told students about her first “C” in college and how crushing it was to receive being a student who constantly received top grades since the fourth grade.
“Don’t be ashamed of finding it hard, it’s supposed to be.”
The justice tried to ease freshman and transfer student’s college worries with her compassionate words and personal experience.
She then gave students a brief insight into what happens behind the Supreme Court. She and the other eight justices decide on topics such as, patents on mosquito repellent and the new Honey Crisp apple.
She explained to students that although these subject weren’t of great interest to her, she learned about them and thus has become a more interesting person.
Sotomayor advised students, “The most interesting people in the world can talk about more than one subject.” Precluding, that students should take classes that are not what they are used to and to “have fun in discovery.”
Sotomayor closed out her speech with a powerful reminder, by telling students “You can’t let life happen to you, you have to take charge.”
After the convocation, the justice was escorted to a private meet and greet session with students from the English department, Student Council and a few other students.
According to the John Jay’s Convocation page, students asked questions such as, “How do you stay grounded amid all of your professional accolades?” and, “What question do you ask yourself before rendering a decision?”
John Jay senior and English major, Darren Harris, summed up his inspiration with a personal quote, which was read aloud, during the meet and greet with, “The honorable Sotomayor, not only inspires Hispanics, but all ethnicities by teaching us, through her life’s work, how to strive to give 100% at all times, be aware of challenges we face in our journeys and never give up in those moments where there seems to be no answer.”
By: Darren Harris
Summer is almost over and the season is beginning to change to fall, and along with the change of season, fashion seems to follow right along.
The summer fashions have seen a tremendous outburst of color such as violet tulip, freesia, white, placid blue, sand and dazzling blue in jeans, shorts, blouses, shoes, and accessories.
So, what are the fashion mistakes to steer clear from when transitioning your wardrobe from summer to fall?
According to womens-fashion.lovetoknow.com, one of the biggest mistakes women make during the fall season is “mixing prints,” where “florals don’t complement plaid, and paisley doesn’t work with polka dots.”
This column is not saying not to wear prints, but instead, ensure that you’re going to wear a solid color that will complement the print blouse of your choice.
Priscilla Sanchez, a John Jay student, said “every girl should have a cute print top, but they shouldn’t overdue it, and that seems to be the issue i have noticed a lot on campus is the print can sometimes overpower the entire outfit.”
Another fashion mistake during the fall season according to www.gurl. com/fashion-mistakes-faus-paux is “not layering properly,” and the importance of layers for the morning, afternoon, and evening outfits.
New Yorkers tend to experience the emotions of the weather changes, and it’s important that they layer properly through the day.
Barrie Nulman, a John Jay student, said “I always try to wear a good amount of layering during the fall season, because I know that the weather can change during the day, and it’s essential that I wear layers that not only complement my style but also the New York weather.”
What about snow or rain boots? Should you bring an extra pair of shoes to change into once you reach your destination? During the fall season, New York City can experience large amounts of rain and snow that can often kill even the most pre- pared fashionista. Rain or snow boots can conflict with the style of an outfit if they aren’t form fitting to add to the appearance. In a recent poll at John Jay, 85 percent of students voted that it is easier to keep their rain or snow boots on throughout the day instead of changing into shoes. Students, such as Denise C. Taylor, hassle with keeping on wet boots. “Although it is easier to just keep the boots on, they become difficult to walk in, and really kill the look on a girl’s outfit,” said Taylor. In this case, looks come over comfort. According to John Jay student Marcela Nash, “style outweighs comfort any day and it’s just a fashion nightmare to wear rain boots that do not compliment someone’s outfit.”
If a person decides to wear rain or snow boots, then try to choose a neutral color that can be worn with multiple outfits. Fashion is always evolving and changing, and it’s important that fashionista’s stay on top of their wardrobe to ensure that they don’t become fashion victims during a season that often demands you to choose between comfort or style. Looking at the trends that are perfect for the fall and winter seasons, such as robe coats and dresses over pants, one must be
careful with these looks as they can make or break an outfit. There are statement making trends this fall season, and if
you’re selective yet fashion forward with your style, you’ll be making heads turn.
By: Edir Coronado
One of the main issues with the prisonsystem is the recidivism rate. A New York based program has begun education programs in prisons, and with great success has allowed its participants to become contributing members of society. With 300 participants, only one returning to jail, and most students receiving a bachelors degree, it is safe to say that the program is showing results.
Ray Tebout, the director of counseling and mentoring at the program, explained how the College Initiative program allows former inmates to attend college by debunking some of the barriers they believe they will encounter.
Tebout understands the mix of different personalities the staff deals with and the obstacles both the student and mentor must overcome.
Some of the common obstacles Tebout sees among the younger students is the desire for instant gratification. He said the most common questions among these less experienced individuals are “why should I invest two to six years in school?” or “why not pick a trade or get a job?”
Tebout tackles these questions by providing evidence that an education will reduce the likeliness of a return back to prison. He also approaches this situation by helping the younger potential students in terms of long term goals.
Skeptical students are asked by Tebout to look at how much income they will accumulate over a lifetime rather than the short term. According to Tebout, a high school graduate can expect to earn an average of 1.2 million, someone with a bachelors can earn upwards of 2.1 million, and a masters graduate in the 2.5 million range.
These statistics gives the young students a different perspective on life and education.
Among the more seasoned individuals what is most commonly seen is the lack of knowledge when it comes to computers and technology. Many of the older students might have went to prison when the internet had not become such a big tool or when computers were not easily accessible.
Older generations of inmates face a major issue due to not being involved in a world that has rapidly become digitally influenced.
One 70- year- old student in the program, who asked to remain anonymous, has been in prison for more than 30 years. This individual had major issues with the use of computers. At the moment, he is currently finishing up his first semester, which is a huge success for someone who may have given up if not for the support that the College Initiative program has given them.
The program doesn’t only rely on its staff to support the incoming students, they rely heavily on peer mentorship. Through experience they have realized that a student is more likely to drop out of college during their first year.
This is why, after several months of working with a staff member, the students enter a peer mentorship program, where a fellow program participant with a 3.0 GPA and at least a year of college under their belt becomes a mentor to the new student. They serve as a support system for the student if they have problems with a subject matter or maybe a need to just vent about their frustrations with school.
Frustrations can include being the discrimination that they encounter because of their prison history. Tebout explained that the students within the program are scrutinized, “it is not necessarily the organization that is receiving negative feedback from the community, but the student themselves.”
Some reasons and common arguments of those opposed to an educational tactic towards the rehabilitation system often revolve around “we do not want to make smarter criminals,” according to Tebout. Tebout believes “we are not making smarter criminals, we are creating individuals with a different way of thinking.” His meaning is that when a person is exposed to education, he or she has the ability to create better options and make better decisions.
Tebout claims that if we were to look at our incarcerated in terms of employment, people can see that for many, selling drugs is the only job around. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Drug offenses account for 48.8% percent of all incarcerated American. Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping offenses account for 2.8 percent of the prison population, sex offenses for 6.5 percent, robbery 3.7 per- cent, and weapons, explosives and arson account for 15.8 percent.
What the College initiative programs aims at doing, is taking this prison population, and showing them a different method of succeeding in life that they might have not been exposed to in the past.
The program has gained awareness through word of mouth and by sending their staff members to different location to speak about the program and the issues that they are trying to resolve through education.
By: Ryan Durning
Jhené Aiko’s debut album “Souled Out” was released on Sept. 9th. The Def Jam signed songbird has slowly brought attention to this project through a mixtape, guest appearances, and last year’s “Sail Out” EP.
Thankfully, Aiko doesn’t disappoint her fans, bringing introspective songwriting to this album in spades.
The West Coast singer is not known for having a particularly strong voice or a wide range of notes she can hit. Instead, she offers interesting takes on R&B’s well-tread subject matter through wordplay to keep listeners engaged.
Aiko usually presents lyrics that differ from the standard mainstream fare; quite often her songs convey a message or take on a deeper meaning.
The song titled “Limbo Limbo Limbo” kicks the album off with an immediate strong start, as it sets the tone for the serious nature of her LP.
“She was born in limbo / With the need to be as simple / As her makers and the made up things she dreamed” describes Jhene’s abstract style.
The distortion effects used in the last verse take away from the track but overall it’s a solid introduction to what she brings to the table as both a songwriter and singer.
The second track is one of the best songs on the album, titled “W.A.Y.S,” which is an acronym for why aren’t you
smiling. The song has an uptempo flow matched with a hypnotic beat and personal lyrics that draw on two of her biggest inspirations, her daughter Namiko and brother Miyagi.
She displays an impressive use of alliteration on the hook, singing “Life can get wild when you’re caught in a whirlwind / Lost in the world when you’re chasing the wind.” The next couple songs are two of the
three singles released off the album, “To Live and Die” featuring Cocaine 80s and “Spotless Mind.” These songs include some of the strongest production and lyrics on the album as a whole.
The only problem is “Souled Out” doesn’t feature too much variety in terms
of sound. Heartfelt lyrics and solid technique are wonderful to have but when some of the beats start to blend together, it can quickly take away from the enjoy- ability of the song.
As the album marches on, the centerpiece “Wading” is the weakest song. “As good as it gets / I’ll have one regret / You’re something I cannot miss” doesn’t
strike the mind as memorable and Jhene’s vocal range don’t help either.
Some of her music on this album suffers from sequencing, it seems. For exam- ple “Wading” and “Eternal Sunshine” suffer from being placed right before better songs such as “The Pressure.”
“Promises” is a song about her pledges to both her deceased brother, Miyagi and
her adolescent daughter Namiko. Lyrics dedicated to her daughter like “I’ve been coming home late night / I’ve been sleeping past day light /I’m waking up you’re not by my side / Baby that ain’t right” are intimate and touching. A song that is both heartbreaking and profound, Ms. Aiko tugs at the heartstrings one last time.
Closing out the album is “Pretty Bird (Freestyle),” a spoken word/song hybrid with some unflattering vocals. Chicago rapper Common has the last verse and some uplifting wordplay to balance out Jhene’s sulky verses.
Souled Out is an impressive album in the sense that it features almost no other voice except Jhene herself. While this is increasingly rare for a major label debut, it also places all of her strengths and weak- nesses front and center. Thankfully her writing and honest approach overpowers her underpowered voice and occasionally bland beat choice.
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