First time I listened to Jidenna was when he released the song Classic Man. It was such a vibe so I instantly grew a liking to him. Of course being an existing Janelle Monáe fan, when Yoga was released I was also all over that. And rightfully so, when Jidenna finally realised his album The Chief, I bought it (this was before I discovered Apple Music haha). But with all that said, I can’t say I was ready for Jidenna to get any cooler than he already was in my eyes and to my ears. Then homie dropped 85 To Africa and I’m scatter-brain for him, oh ma god-o!
85 To Africa has been the biggest emotional shift to the kind of music I listen to. Sure when I listened to The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack I thought I had been converted because it’s also an entire vibe. However it doesn’t compare to the appreciation I have for Jidenna’s new album; my overall outlook on Afrobeats, or rather, Afrobeat inspired sound, definitely evolved. From start to finish, I can listen to the album like it’s the first time — and I’m just as impressed every single time. More-so when I pick up on new lyrics and sounds I may have missed previously. Forget being “a whole mood”, Jidenna is an entire lifestyle! Folks will say I ought to stop riding the man so hard but I simply give credit where it’s due. *smirk*
When I listen to music I listen to music that speaks mostly to my mellow soul. But with 85 To Africa, it feels like listening to music that speaks to the soul, reenforces the feeling of home, and celebrates the being of blackness and African-ness. I’m not saying other musicians, songs and albums don’t do that; the way Jidenna DID IT in this album, for me, deserves all the praise. Even watching the album trailer got me in my feels especially with the xenophobic attacks that were happening in South Africa just a couple weeks ago. “Where could I go, where land was my land, where home was my home” — I felt that. Fortunately for Jidenna he could come to Africa and the experience birthed this hit album; for the rest of us silently fearing xenophobic attacks, going back home isn’t exactly top option, but that’s a story for another day…
Jidenna has always embraced his Nigerian background since The Chief, which I’ve always enjoyed. In 85 To Africa he definitely amplifies this embrace through sound and lyric, which I love! I also found it mildly nostalgic because I grew up watching Nigerian films with my mom and to hear one of my favs use similar terminology in his music definitely nudged at my heartstrings. And if you hadn’t picked up on it already, “Vaporiza” was one of my favourite tracks from the jump. Then obviously “Badouche” and “Tribe” are a vibe! “Worth The Weight” and “85 To Africa” definitely set the tone for the album and all the fire you’re about to grace your ears with. “Zodi” is definitely soppy Cleo’s ultimate track because, “How many signs e go take before it’s real for you?”. For a hella gym track, if you’re not listening to “Sou Sou”, I’m not entirely sure if your workout is valid. Feel like queening? Then hunnie, “Sufi Woman” is the one! “Pretty & Afraid” definitely gets my karaoke on. “Jungle Fever” is probably the only song which doesn’t do that much for me. Then soppy Cleo reenters the scene for “The Other Half” featuring St. Beauty! *weeps*
Did I mention I’m really feeling Jidenna’s new hair do and overall look? Sure the Classic Man look was cool and all — but the this new swaggering man dripping in African sauce is definitely way more rousing. Think I’m being dramatic? Go see his Instagram then! You’ll see what I mean. May as well check out his Twitter and website while you’re at it. And of course you MUST get the album! You actually MUST! I’ve been well acquainted with Apple Music now so that’s were I’ve been jamming the album. Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.