PITCHFORK: JHENE AIKO "SATIVA"
“Sativa” [ft. Swae Lee]
Jhené Aiko loves using a good high as a metaphor for sensuality. Her new album, Trip, treats psychedelia as the gateway to eroticism with song titles like “Mystic Journey,” and “Psilocybin.” The stoned romantic in her also reawakens in the smoked-out getaway “Sativa,” a hushed duet with Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee that finds Aiko in her ideal space and introduces Swae to a new one.
Swae Lee, who most recently played pop medium for French Montana on “Unforgettable,” shapeshifts again into the perfect R&B playmate on “Sativa.” His voice is silky, almost dulcet; the song is something of a crash course in subtlety for him, and Aiko (who wrote the book on whispered croons) guides him through it, never asking him to do too much. Her voice nuzzles just into the frame of his, as the bass throbs beneath. Swae has natural R&B instincts, which require a softness and steadiness we’d never heard from him in his rap or pop performances; his tone isn’t as raw, each note more rounded. Aiko has done some of her sharpest writing with Drake, Big Sean, and Childish Gambino, but in many of those scenarios, she merely played their Cool Girl, parroting their wildest fantasies back at them. On “Sativa,” she dictates the pace, controlling the narrative and her lover. Ever the slick scene-setter, Jhené Aiko has mastered lyrical head trips, and on “Sativa,” she pulls you into the haze.