Jidenna’s debut album, The Chief, has been a long time coming. His hit single, “Classic Man”, came out two years ago. Ironically, that song is nowhere to be found on his debut. However, the 14 tracks on the album don’t disappoint. He has Janelle Monae’s backing. So, he is expected to march to the beat of his own drum. Jidenna confidently does just that. Although he is a Hip Hop artist at his core, The Chief crosses various cultural and genre boundaries. The album’s title is a tribute of sorts to his father. Let’s just say that his father is smiling from above.
Jidenna quickly let’s us know he’s serious on the aggressive opener, “A Bull’s Tale”. Here, he details burying his father and people who have shaky motives. This is hands down one of the most memorable songs from The Chief. The production and his witty lyrics are a match made in heaven. Jidenna carries the majority of the album on his own, with the help of a few features. His Wondaland brother, Roman GianArthur stops by on the infectiously tribal sounding “Chief Don’t Run”.
Nana Kwabena is featured on the southern, guttural ditty “The Let Out”. None of the songs are extremely radio friendly, but that’s what makes the music more intriguing. However, this song stands out as a probable fan and radio favorite. “Safari” features his mentor Janelle Monae, St. Beauty and Nana Kwabena again. The production here sounds like it could have fit easily next to a track from Kanye’s classic 808s and Heartbreak album. Don’t mistake it though. Jidenna still has a style that’s all his own.
Jidenna proves he has a clever sense of humor on songs like “Trampoline”. Here, he sings, “The lady ain’t a tramp/Just cause she bounce it up and down like a trampoline”. This song sounds like what would happen if the I Dream Of Genie theme song were remixed. However, the interlude at the end of the song is even more hilarious. “Bambi” sounds like a close descendant of the legendary Bob Marley. “Helicopters/Beware” is a brilliant tale about those who have labeled him a target because of his success.
How could we forget “Long Live The Chief”? This song embodies the whole concept of the album. Jidenna is cool, calm and collected. The thumping bass knock, coupled with his unbothered swagger make for a stellar song. “2 Points” further drives the point home that Jidenna shines brightest alone, on his own terms. The Chief proves that although his album took a while to release, it was well worth the wait.
Jidenna has created a kick ass debut. So, I wonder how he will top himself on his sophomore album. Maybe that one will be called The Chief Still Stands. With songs like these, he will definitely be around for many years to come.
Check out some of the songs from The Chief, below. What are your thoughts on Jidenna’s brand of Hip Hop?