When Jidenna first dropped I wasn’t sure what his intentions were.
At first I saw a nigga with a goofy name dressed like a monorail salesman who just hit a lick in Springfield and West Haverbrook. I thought the song “Classic Man” was the respectable negro anthem, I hated what I thought it stood for even though I enjoyed it. As time went on I noticed that he was active at a lot of protests and very outspoken about his beliefs, I saw there was more to him. I also saw that he could really RAP, and that won me over. Plus any african nigga with a goofy name from the Boston Area will always get my support.
When his first album (quietly) released I was very impressed with the quality of the songs. Jidenna was like Harry Belafonte if he actually liked being seen publicly with Black Women; it was cool. Unfortunately it felt as if that album wasn’t designed to make an impact, and Jidenna quietly disappeared. A few years passed and homie has dropped the suits, got a tattoo sleeve and released his sophomore effort “85 to Africa”. So let’s discuss it.
Jidenna is still trying to figure out what he wants to be about. Self discovery is pretty difficult, especially when your identity isn’t easily defined. Jidenna has experience as an inner city youth, an african son and an Ivy leaguer. It makes for a very inspiring Tyler Perry movie plot but not so much for a rap album. The songs are good but they lack some authenticity. Sometimes it feels like Jidenna is holding back because he knows this isn’t really him. This is a good album to listen to on the way to your first date with a black girl after you’ve dated white women for years. A lot of this album sounds like Jidenna’s trying to say the right thing instead of the honest thing.
The bigger issue is that Jidenna wants to bridge the gap between African music and American music. Sounds like a good idea but this has already been done. Afrobeats are pretty popular at the moment so Jidenna is a little late to the party. He’s doing an introductory course when we’re in AP Classes. We don’t need to hear vibranium references to feel comfortable with African music, we’re already dancing to songs about niggas cheating on their wives.
Overall “85 to Africa” is a fun distraction. If you need the courage to wear a t-shirt and dress pants, this album will get you there. I support Jidenna and want him to be great. I give “85 to Africa” 6.5 VIP tickets to Afropunk out of 10.