Jhené Aiko is a “Maniac” in an asylum in the video for her sex-crazed single off her upcoming sophomore album.
Directed by Aiko and Topshelf Junior, the clip is meant to showcase what the song delivers with its raunchy lyrics and sensual production. “There are so many layers to my personality. One of them is very sexual and ‘Maniac’ is me sharing that side of myself,” Aiko told Rolling Stone. “When I started putting together the concept for the ‘Maniac’ visual, I wanted to explore what it meant to be manic.”
Bound, gagged, and caged up in what looks to be an abandoned asylum, Aiko appears helpless at the start of the clip. As it progresses, she breaks out of constraints to explore her sexuality, grinding on a mannequin on a hospital bed.
After researching asylums, a process that included watching films and learning about “bizarre techniques that were used back in the day to treat mental patients,” Aiko found inspiration in history. “I learned that lots of women were admitted for absurd reasons, including being ‘nymphomaniacs’ and were basically tortured in the name of treatment,” Aiko explained.
This process was particularly cathartic for Aiko, as she discovered another side of her with a new diagnosis. “Ironically, I released ‘Maniac’ at a time where I had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” she said. “So my interest in the research was genuine. I think we all have some sort of imbalance, but I also believe that we can overcome it. I find my balance through creating art. The ‘Maniac’ visual is the story of a mental patient who finds her own cure.”
Aiko says the video is personal in all of these ways, from the methods of bondage down to the props. “Being tied up in general is something I’ve always found exciting. I’ve always liked a little pain with my pleasure,” she said. “Most of the props that I used in the ‘Maniac’ visual are actual sex toys that I bought myself, including the gag and restraints. Being tied up, gagged and caged were all treatment techniques used in asylums back in the day. Being tied up, gagged and caged are also forms of pleasure for some people … who some may call crazy … maniacs even.
“Maniac” is an early glimpse at Aiko’s forthcoming LP, the follow-up to 2014’s Souled Out. For Jhené, the project also comes on the heels of last year’s TWENTY88 joint effort with her beau Big Sean.