When we first heard Jhené Aiko’s “Maniac,” we can’t deny we were taken aback. We weren’t used to the singer of songs like “Eternal Sunshine” or “The Pressure” talking like Adina Howard. Sure, that infamous line on “Post to B” gave us an inkling of her sexual proclivities, along with “Living Room Flow,” but that opening couplet was a doozy. However, another surprise has come now that we've watched the newly released music video. Instead of our expectation of your basic sexy time clip, Jhené uses an abandoned hospital to tell the story of a mental patient who escapes to find her own cure. While that is the story on the surface, there’s deeper meaning to be found in the complex relationship between sex, society and identity.
Directed by Aiko and Topshelf Junior, the clip opens with our heroine strapped into a hospital gurney at an insane asylum (or a sex club) dressed in a polka dot hospital gown complete with mouth restraints. A medical professional looks on as Aiko convulses and winces in what might be pain or ecstasy. There are also scenes of the “The Worst” singer in a straight jacket and mask, stuck in a cage and, most importantly, running for her life after freeing herself. Once free, we see that our girl has turned the tables. Wearing a black corset, we watch as she straddles a leather sex doll in a hospital bed and relishes in her freedom and sexuality.
The concept for “Maniac” developed from Aiko’s personal interest in insane asylums and the historical treatment of women in these institutions. In addition, the artist found the process of creating the song and making the video cathartic, not only for sharing a more intimate side of herself but also for dealing with her recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
“Maniac” is the first single from Jhené Aiko’s upcoming untitled sophomore album that we’re guessing will be released sometime this year. In addition, there are also rumblings that we can expect another TWENTY88 album sometime soon from her and her boo Big Sean, who has also been releasing new music on his own lately. Until then, peep the video below.