Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's new home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
In her new music video for "Never Call Me" — one of two music videos she's releasing for the song — Jhené Aiko is Izanami no mikoto, a Shinto goddess who specializes in creation and death. Izanami is a fitting character for the song, a scorching send-off for an ex-lover.
"Let's stop pretending that we were in love/we never shared anything but the drugs," Aiko sings, marching through a Japanese-style garden with an attendant close behind her. Later, a woman casts ashes into the ocean while Aiko looks on from behind a veil.
"I’m really big on drawing inspiration from the different cultures I’m mixed with," Aiko, who is quarter Japanese, told Refinery29. "This is my interpretation of Izanami no mikoto."
The funeral at the end of the video is the official dismissal ceremony — Aiko, with the help of Izanami no mikoto, is sending off her ex.
"The funeral is for a man I knew personally. A man who lost his way," Aiko divulges. "A man who played the victim in a situation where he surely was not. A man who is a liar and cheater. A man who has lost his pride and integrity due to his deceptive ways and lack of understanding love. This funeral is the funeral for his ego. In this visual, I portray the goddess of creation and death, coming to collect his poor spirit and set it free."
The second video for "Never Call Me," to be released at the same time, is less lofty. It features Aiko in her hometown of South Central Los Angeles, going about what looks like an average day. When asked why "Never Call Me" needed two visuals, Aiko is matter-of-fact.
"I just love this song," she says. "I have a lot of different layers to my personality and I love getting to express those layers through my visuals."
"Never Call Me" is part of a Jhené Aiko refresh. After years of collabs and features, Aiko released her first solo album since 2014 in September of last year. The album is called Trip, and Aiko intends it to be a journey in every sense of the word. One song can have multiple interpretations. One goddess can both mourn a death and celebrate release. As part of the Trip album release, Aiko also released a short film directed by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) and a book of poetry.
"This [album] has made me more present in the lives of the people I love," Aiko told the LA Times in September. "Now more than ever, I know where I'm headed. I'm really enjoying the trip, the journey. I'm in a really good place now."
At the end of the "Never Call Me" video, before the ashes hit the sea, Aiko looks down, here eyes covered by a veil. When the ashes fall, Aiko looks up at the camera, facing the viewer. It's an an acknowledgement of renewal. Watch the full video for "Never Call Me," below.
Read These Stories Next: