Do you remember the first time you heard about Jidenna and found out he was in fact Nigerian?
It was probably like this; as the white-ish son of a late Nigerian professor, whose burial had reportedly required extra security detail because according to Jidenna, Imo state was unsafe for mixed race people like him. This was not only a narrative he didn’t mind sharing with the international media about his experience in Nigeria, it was also one he refused to let up on, even after the media and fans attempted to show the rapper his statement may have unintentionally depicted the country to the rest of the world. In fact the following year, during his interview with Ndani Juice host Dorcas Shola Fapson, the rapper alleged that Nigerians may be petering the tourism value of his affiliation with the country and inversely adding to the country’s poor reputation in international media, for calling him out on a bland generalisation he made on his own? Yikes.
Fast forward a few months later, Jidenna is hosting his first live in concert at Hard Rock Cafe, Lagos. This, in addition to “Adaora” and “A Little Bit More”, two tracks off his debut album The Chief, where he makes deliberate tributes to Afropop and Nigeria, became the new imprints of Jidenna ‘The Nigerian’ artist. In the months that followed, Jidenna has shown his Nigerian-ness by celebrating at the country’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup on social media, he has also opened concerts headlined by Nigerian artists in America, and most recently was the guest host for Heineken’s Live Your Music concerts in Lagos and Abuja.
Jidenna will be releasing his Boomerang EP chock-full with African features including Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Wale and Sarkodie. This would more or less be the new standard for Jidenna, who seems more eager than ever to validate his Nigerian ancestry by affiliation with Nigerian music. But before we accept this project with open arms, we need to keep in mind the kind of man Jidenna used to be. We need to especially consider how randomly timely his new found need to be Nigerian directly ties with the on-going global interest in Afropop. For a rapper who is still gaining grounds in his primary American, Afropop work to expand Jidenna’s opportunities in Africa.
Coincidence? I think the f*ck not.