Album Review: Jidenna – ‘The Chief’
Written by Reid Smith on March 8, 2017
Image courtesy of Epic Records
By: Wise Ellis
Title: The Chief
Record Label: Wondaland-Epic Records
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Many of us recognize rapper Jidenna by his uniquely extravagant day-to-day style, and his 2015 Double Platinum single “Classic Man.” After releasing the songs “Long Live the Chief” and “Chief Don’t Run” in 2016, Jidenna has at last released his debut album The Chief.
Jidenna, an Ivy League-educated Nigerian rapper, has created a wide-ranging debut album. From songs like “Little Bit More” adding a reggae vibe to the dance pop record “Some Kind of Way,” Jidenna has clearly been influenced by many different musical sounds and genres, and incorporated them into his debut. This is a challenge for many artists because there is a fine line between an album fusing diverse sounds into a single body of work and an album that sounds all over the place. Unfortunately, The Chief lacks the coherence that takes listeners on a musical voyage without making them seasick along the way.
Despite this, The Chief is a well-produced and well-performed album. The Chief utilizes musical instrumentation in a way most rap albums don’t. The musicality of the album allows for Jidenna to rap and sing, both of which he does very well, unlike other rappers turned “singers’ “The record conceptualizes the transition of power. The album opener, “A Bull’s Tale,” tells the story of a young man succeeding his father’s place as chief of the tribe, hence the title. This parallel to tribal life is a reflection of the influence of his Nigerian heritage and continues throughout the album. The album isn’t all fictional storylines though – Jidenna addresses real-life controversial societal issues like racial injustice and police brutality.
Jidenna’s approach to his debut album is solid. He has showcased his talents fairly well and has defined himself as an artist. Although there wasn’t a song that moved me most, I am looking forward to more Jidenna. His talent is there and his artistry was well-expressed. If you haven’t already, check out The Chief, as it’s definitely worth a listen.