Album of The Week: Jidenna's The Chief
The first time I was introduced to Jidenna was episode 5 of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix. It was the morning after an evening of fine wine and good times. Head was throbbing while the rest of me lay lifeless. The only cure for such a state was TV and Gatorade. Thankfully, TV was next to me but the Gatorade would unfortunately have to wait. As soon as this Luke Cage episode began, an unfamiliar, yet soothing pulsating beat began to reanimate my spirits:
Niggas fighting over rings
Niggas wanna be the King, but
Long Live the Chief
My fingers began tapping softly on the bed; my body was moving of its own accord. What was happening to me?
That's right, pimp game like a brothel
That's why, I don’t judge a nigga's hustle
I Airbnb the crib like a hostel
Summer rate cheaper 'cause the streets get hostile
When did I start head banging? Considering my state, I should have never been able to do this. It was this musical defibrillator bringing me back to life. Music DOES heal. But who was this man, classier than Cottonmouth in his own club? I admit, ever since that episode, I was hooked. I researched him but not much had been released. I patiently waited as days turned into weeks and weeks into months. That was until last week.
How do I describe this masterpiece? Absolutely necessary.
Variety - No song is the same. My unrefined ear can immediately tell that Jidenna drew from a multitude of inspirations; not a feat many musicians are accomplishing, especially in this genre. His album jumps from hip-hop, to R&B, to soul, afro-beats and even minor hints of rock and roll and flamenco. This would normally appear chaotic to the listener but he pulls this off with ease. By sticking to key themes and witty manners of self-expression, the tracks all mesh together to create one cohesive album. It also shows the power of cultural appreciation. The sound is a culmination of his life experience which includes the places he’s resided in.
Lyricism: More than Eli, Jidenna’s lyrics are straight up clever. His ability to integrate deeper meanings into two or three lines is just magnificent. If you need an example, Long Live the Chief is perfect. If you need another, just literally check out the following song titled 2points.
I don’t spend no major time with no minor people
If it’s for the greater good then I might deceive you
Although it’s a short song, Jidenna definitely makes his point; he’s got more bars than Dove. He’s also fearless since a few of his songs discuss our current political and societal climate in a manner people will jump at the opportunity to disagree with. The following is an excerpt from the track titled White Nigga:
Say if you and your wife, Madeline
Were treated just like mine
All the anchors on ABC Nightline would speak about white crime
We’d see videos every night of handcuffed white boys in the night time
Hope you know how to fight crime
911’s no longer your life line
Best of the Best
Long Live the Chief: Aside from being the ultimate hangover cure, this song screams pride. If you want to get your day going, to get pumped, or want to tackle an arduous task…. bump this tune. It’s empowering, clever and a dance track all meshed into one. Google the lyrics if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Adaora: A little Spanish guitar always invokes passion and this tune does that. This song is about love for that supreme being you want to spend cosmic eternity with. It’s got a dope flamenco rift with a solid bass line. It also reminds me of Ludacris’ Freaky Thangs which happens to be one of my favourite Ludacris tracks.
White Nigga: Explains the struggle that many black people cannot properly articulate. When a black person tells you, “You just don’t get it.” this is what he wishes s/he could explain to you. Through a role reversal, Jidenna explains the plight of a black man in a white context. I’m sure this track will be met with some discord but this might just be the ultimate anthem when it comes to racial empathy. And the lyrical execution *deep exhale* although different, had subtle hints Andre 3000. Extremely dope.
These were found on YouTube, pick up the record or stream on Spotify to show your support
Extra honourable mention: A Bull’s Tale. His life story told in 4:56. Bars pon’ bars. I want to break down the lyrics but I don’t want to spread misinformation. Once I find out, I’ll get back to you.
Aside from the aforementioned reasons, what also stood out to me was the fact that this entire album punches stereotypes right in the mouth from beginning to end. His ability to switch his lyrical delivery based on sound and feel of the instruments proves his versatility as an artist. Jidenna is an artist who doesn’t dress the way he’s expected, doesn’t think the way he’s expected, and who’s brilliance exceeds what we expected.
Don't forget to pick up the record!!