Jidenna Becomes ‘The Chief’ in Hip-Hop on Versatile Debut Album

It’s been two whole years since Jidenna infiltrated the airwaves with his Kendrick Lamar assisted song “Classic Man.” Now the dappered down 31-year-old star has finally returned with his debut album The Chief.

Story | Adam Douglas || Image via Epic Records

The gap between Jidenna’s mainstream debut in 2015 and The Chief may have left some questioning whether the Wisconsin native would be singled as a one hit wonder. However after listening to the the hour long debut, it’s apparent Jidenna still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Released under Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Records, Jidenna delivers an album that is diverse in genre and offers much variety. From “A Bull’s Tale” to “Bully of the Earth,” The Chief borrows from reggae and hip-hop, while remaining heavily ingrained in Jidenna’s Nigerian roots. This allows him to speak on sociopolitical issues:

“They’ll shoot you down without warning,
When they see you shining bright,
In case we don’t meet the morning,
The crown’s on my head tonight”

Jidenna balances out the album’s heavy topics of today’s politics, police brutality, and social issues with more radio friendly songs like “Trampoline” and “The Let Out,” allowing the album’s social awareness to drift in and out between songs. The end result is a good blend of turn-up and social consciousness over bouncy and vibrant production primarily from Jidenna’s go-to producer Nana Kwabena, Hit-Boy, Best Kept Secret and Sonny Digital.

The Chief gives Jidenna a chance to show a full range of his artistry. While most of the world has already experienced Jidenna’s singing abilities on “Classic Man,” songs like “Long Live the Chief” — his single featured on Marvel’s Luke Cage — flex his ability to rap over a gritty synth and amped drum break:

“You can either sink, swim or be the captain,
Get the last word I’mma get the last laugh in,
Now they say ‘Jidenna why you dressing so classic?’
I don’t want my best dressed day in a casket”

Jidenna’s already proven to be a mainstream hit, and his signature classic style only makes him more recognizable. Aside from features on shows like Insecure and Luke Cage, he was able to feature “Classic Man” in the Oscar award-winning film Moonlight.

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