HipHopDX pens the official Jidenna 85 To Africa album review.
frantic knocking on the front door of the suburban Atlanta mansion hed been subletting and was greeted by a quartet of police officers. His crime? Living in a house owned by someone who defaulted on their mortgage payments. A Grammy-nominated artist whos collaborated with the likes of Janelle Mone, Jidenna had been evicted through no fault of his own. Having spent a portion of his youth in Nigeria, he ended his tour in Africa, and resided in Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland, as he told The Breakfast Club . What was literally a rude awakening had become a source of soul-searching, both mentally and creatively. The albums first two tracks are when Jidenna really lays into the concepts of displacement and what they mean for black people. Opener Worth the Weight features Fela Kutis son, Seun Kuti, addressing the African Diaspora and championing unification for black people. On the excellent title track, Jidenna presents some of his fiercest verse-spitting, even throwing in some Spanish. The instrumental solidifies his passion for empowerment with fanfare horns, deep bass, and crisp drums. A very telling line is heard on Worth the Weight: Aint no time for bein subtle. Jidennas not kidding, as his lyrics arent full of many complexities or even moments of cleverness. Its mostly able to skate by on the back of his charismatic performances and strong backing tracks, particularly on the more Afrobeat-centric cuts. Sometimes, the shoddy writing is too egregious for him to emerge unscathed, such as Fake woke n****s nappin/Tuck em in like a napkin (Tribe) or The world is fucked up/So we fuck our way through (Sou Sou). A lot of 85 To Africa also concerns love. While Jidennas discussion of the subject is mostly concentrated on infatuation, hes still able to give these songs unique, if familiar, energy. The Latin guitar melody and spiritual focus make Sufi Woman a standout. On Vaporize, his seductive charms are furthered by the saxophone and flute accompanying him. While many of these songs are endearing, there are some feelings of missed opportunity to really get into the heart of who Jidenna is and what hes been going through. On the penultimate track Jungle Fever, he gives some info about how his parents met and made him. (And they end up in the land of jungle fever/Too much gin, one day, the bed rumbles). He talks a bit about his childhood, but thats not until after hes given his mom and dads background. Even when Jidennas telling his story, he can feel like hes forcing himself to play second fiddle. Theres no sense of shyness in Jidenna when he performs, his vocals ringing out proudly and loudly at the top of the mix. But he might be holding himself and his music back by not presenting himself as boldly as he could. He can use his voice for rapping and singing, but hes still getting the hang of using it to truly deliver a message. Subscribe to DX Newsletter Get The Most Important Stories Of The Day Straight To Your Inbox Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Youre Far Too Kind To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you. Joining Newsletter