Other Side Drive

Lyrical Breakdown: Jhene Aiko’s W.A.Y.S

todayJuly 14, 2015 2789 8 5

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by Solange Tara
Other Side Drive

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In the spotless mind of a girl caught in limbo, the fourth hour is where all will turn into beautiful ruins. She is then reminded that life isn’t just about this moment, but so much more. With guidance and the will to keep going, this pretty bird found her way to eternal sunshine.  In this song of the week we look at Jhene Aiko’s W.A.Y.S; A story about how lost hope can still be found.

Jhene Aiko is a singer and songwriter from L.A. known mostly for her EP single The Worst and her collaborations with popular artists such as Drake. To Jhene, her music is personal. It’s about honesty and being able to express herself. In an interview with ThisisRnB.com she said, “I think that that’s what being an artist is about. It’s about, like, expressing your story.”

Jhene released her debut album Souled Out in September, 2014. The album title is a play-on-words. In an interview with FUSE TV Jhene expresses that “Souled Out” means to be the opposite of a sellout. “It’s being so much of yourself that you are confident in expressing yourself and being honest about who you are…”

Her song W.A.Y.S. is mostly a tribute to her brother, Miyagi who passed away with cancer. W.A.Y.S. is an acronym for “Why aren’t you smiling?” which is what he brother tweeted minutes before he passed. Jhene starts the song with the phrase, “At forty-four minutes to four.” This relates to her song 3:16 am in which is writes about depression and thoughts of suicide. Jhene is a quarter Japanese. In Japan, four is an unlucky number because it is a homonym for death. However, the darkness fades after the next verse. “An angel walked up to my door, opened the windows to my soul, told me he think that I should know that there’s no slowing down…” This verse refers to her brother visiting her in her dreams, telling her to keep living.

Throughout the song, Jhene finds clarity. She accepts that life is hard but through those hardships there are valuable lessons to be learned. She references a few Buddhist teachings. “…it’s that everything tales time. You have gotta lose your pride. You have gotta lose your mind just to find your peace of mind…” In this verse, Jhene talks about how pride can cause one to suffer. In order to find peace, you must let go of your egoistic state of mind. Another Buddhist reference is when Jhene says, “There’s really no end. There’s really no beginning.” Meaning that life doesn’t end after death. There is no end. To her, her brother’s soul will live on forever. With this she finds the will to keep going.

Life is full of ups and downs. You will be challenged. You will be pushed to your limits. But with every obstacle you become stronger and wiser. In the end, “You have got to trust the signs. Everything will turn out fine.” So why don’t you ask yourself, “Why aren’t you smiling?”

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  1. Dsgb on December 14, 2018

    This song is an inspiration not only to me, and my situations, but with every situation that we as humans go through. Love it, and now that I know the full meaning of it. I love it even more, omg, this just hit my top songs ever. I’m listening to it as I’m writing this, and it’s so heartfelt wow love it.

  2. CEAH on September 28, 2019

    44 minutes to 4:00 subtracts to 3:16, or, viewed closely, John 3:16.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

  3. Mandisa on March 26, 2021

    I used to love this song so much back in high school and I now relate so much than ever and understand the song even more i wanna cry …..thank you for this !!!

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