“Classic Man” aims to become The Chief
When Jidenna emerged in 2015 on Janelle Monae's Wondaland Records with the Grammy-nominated single “Classic Man,” he seemed to turn heads as much for his GQ-approved style as his music. This year, after releasing debut album The Chief, the 32-year-old is determined to prove he's not a one-hit dandy.
Jidenna calls his hybridized rap/R&B sound “swank,” but on The Chief he's a shapeshifter, experimenting not just with forms of hip-hop and R&B, but also throwback pop and neo-soul. “Bambi” has a Sinatra vibe that fits Jidenna's three-piece suit aesthetic, while single “Long Live the Chief,” which is also featured in the Netflix series “Marvel's Luke Cage,” finds him spitting rhymes over a springy, minimalist beat.
Jidenna's stylistic restlessness is likely a result of growing up in Wisconsin, Nigeria and Massachusetts. Later, he had to choose between attending Stanford or Harvard (he chose Stanford), and while pursuing a music career, he hopped among cities like Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Atlanta. The variation keeps things interesting, but listening to The Chief can be whiplash-inducing. It's ambitious, but not a classic. (Think twice)