9 Reasons You Should Check Out Jidenna’s Debut Album, The Chief » VSB

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9 Reasons You Should Check Out Jidenna’s Debut Album, The Chief



In 2015, the world was introduced to Jidenna through the hit single, “Classic Man,” a song directly catered towards Black folks that read and believe that ascots aren’t only a job, but an adventure. I loved that song as most people did. Jidenna as an artist, though, I was ambivalent about. Sure it was a dope song, but how many artists come with dope songs and disappear into the ether only to show up decades later on VH1 “One Hit Wonder” shows because they had nothing else to really offer.

I couldn’t tell just how talented (or not) Jidenna was. One good song does not a dope artist make. But I watched interviews and he was not only well spoken (he speaks so well) and sophisticated in thought, he could actually spit. And his backstory is interesting as hell. He’s pretty much like most of us extraordinary negroes out here.

Again, that was 2015. Like most people borne of the internet age, unless you’re frequenting my eardrums, I will likely forget you exist. Which brings us to this past Tuesday when I decided to peruse Apple Music to find Future’s new album, scrolled and saw that Jidenna released his debut album, The Chief. Did I care? Not really, but shit, I’m in the car and have another 7 hours to drive, #minuswell give it some run.

Well shut my mouth wide open, Jidenna’s album was a revelation and a total surprise. After running through it a few times, I decided that people needed to not only know his album dropped, but needed to listen to it. I’m still undecided on how good it is though I enjoy it, but its definitely worth a listen. So here are 9 reasons why you need to check out The Chief.

2. Jidenna is an actual artist who, according to the liner notes, is involved in the production just as much as the writing. Piggybacking on the first bullet, this isn’t just a rap album, it’s a piece of art. He’s rapping and singing, and does both very well. Obviously, his association with Janelle Monae and the Wondaland Arts Society means that he’s not just a typical artist, but I was surprised at the depth because I only really knew “Classic Man” and really didn’t like “Long Live The Chief” at all, which is on this album.

3. He’s socially conscious while still being very much a nigga. He’s basically all of us who frequent websites like Very Smart Brothas, who give a shit while being able to wax poetic about wings versus flats, grits, and the merits of Hennessy.

4. The song “Trampoline” is basically “I Am Not My Hair” 2017, except written from the male perspective. Sure a woman may like to bounce her ass up and down like a trampoline (really, who doesn’t?), but that doesn’t mean she’s a tramp; she could be a wife, mother, doctor, etc. Effectively, everybody needs to unwind to trap music on occasion. That is of course, unless you can bounce it up and down like a trampoline to Andra Day, which I’m pretty sure is not a thing.

He does get a little elitist with this “what we got degrees for unless we travel overseas for?” which feeds right into the whole bougie negro “must have passport” mantra, but you know, different strokes for different folks. I feel like this song sounds like it has popular potential but ignant niggas don’t like hearing about passports, wedding rings, and reverends in the midst of drug talk. It reminds me a bit of Janelle Monae’s “Yoga,” a song that sounded like it would kill the club except nobody wants to hear a song about yoga at 2am while Ciroc is being poured down their throat.

5. This may sound blasphemous, but Jidenna’s singing voice is LIGHTLY reminiscent of Sam Cooke. I’m NOT SAYING HE SOUNDS LIKE SAME COOKE. I’m just saying on songs like “Bambi,” where he’s singing, he kind of sounds like Sam Cooke and shit. Look, don’t be coming at me on some “P said this nigga Jidenna sounds like Sam Cooke.” I did not. I’m just saying I thought of Sam Cooke when he was singing about lions and shit. And no, “Bambi” is not about the Blackest Disney character of all time. Yes, Bambi’s shit was more Black than Simba. Real shit, Disney’s Bambi is really the 1942, animated version of Save The Last Dance starring Julia Stiles if she were a Black boy. I hear you looking at me right now, but trust me, it will make sense eventually. Thank me later.

That took such a left turn.

6. “Chief Don’t Run” is a dope an intro song as you’re going to get. No, it’s not “No Limit Soldiers” or “What Up, Gangsta,” but its triumphant and has the right open up your album feel. You will probably like this song.

7. “White N****s” is probably the most brilliant song I’ve heard in years. Premise? Jidenna turns the tables on white folks with some, “hey white folks, welcome to being Black…here’s what it looks like.” Also, there’s nothing more hilarious than singing “white niggaaaaaaaaaaaaaas” over and over again. The way he says “white bitchesssssssssssss” on this song also is very telling. It has emotion behind it. Trust me, I’m a blogger.

8. “White N****s” again. Look, if you want to know how smart and creative an artist is, you have to see how they flip old tropes and make them fresh. He managed to do that on this song. We always talk about what life would look like if white people had to face what we do. But we usually do it by putting them in the hood. He keeps white folks in the ‘burbs and attacks their red wine, golf clubs, dogs, and lacrosse.

This song is basically the song version of Jack Briggance’s (Matthew McConaughey) closing arguments in A Time To Kill where Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) tells him to be white and shit so he goes in there and white people’s it up by having the jury picture a heinous rape happening to a little girl…then Sixth Sensing that shit by telling the jury to imagine that she’s white and the whole jury is like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not a white child!!!

Le sigh. I get mad thinking about that all over again.

9. Again, I’m not even sure how good I think the album is yet, but I know I’m impressed and surprised by his depth and how diverse it is in thought and execution. That alone is worth at least a listen. Just do it.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Jennifer

    I’m so proud of the Great Migration (yeah, that’s what I call him!). “Chief Don’t Run” and “Trampoline” are my faves off of the album so far, but I can see myself falling for more of these songs. Ran a little faster this morning listening to the album.

  • Other_guy13

    Bruh…I need him to get more play.

    • panamajackson

      This is part of why I decided to lob this out there.

      • Other_guy13

        Good call. It’s def worth putting your rep on the line. I really hope he get’s more opportunities….cuz he spit hot fire lol

    • Brother Mouzone

      If he had hit the music world in 1986ish, dude would have been a MEGASTAR….am I trippin or is he the same guy that pity fcuked the lawyer sista from “Insecure”.

      • Other_guy13


        • Brother Mouzone

          A couple years before AL B. Sure, without the studio-enhanced voice, and when that “look” was hot in the streets.

      • Yeah that’s him.

  • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

    Remarkably, I actually enjoy this album. Y’all know I’ont really like nobody. Saw it on iTunes looking to see if I could buy the NE Story and stumbled on it. I listened to Bambi first being that it had the highest ratings. It put me in the mind of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I was pleasantly surprised.

    Sidenote: Bambi made me think of Disney, which reminds me that I watched The Little Mermaid 2 days ago and was enraged when I realized that Ariel wants grown woman legs and a man, but doesn’t know what a fork is and it’s use. Pissed me off…

    • miss t-lee

      “I listened to Bambi first being that it had the highest ratings. It put me in the mind of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.”

      Also! I kept trying to put my finger on the group it reminded me of.

    • ” Ariel wants grown woman legs and a man, but doesn’t know what a fork is and it’s use. Pissed me off…” YOU WIN!!


    • Glo

      I’m still mad that Ariel got a man without ever using her words. Like, I get it, she’s pretty, but really? He knew exactly zero things about her but was ready to wife her up. SMDH

      • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

        Don’t get me started. After I thought about it, it seems like Pocahantas, Jasmine and Mulan were the only ones that weren’t warped. Cinderella had a mouse infestation. Belle was in love with a man-dog. Even Tiana dared to be a frog in a place where frog legs are a delicacy. I can’t.

        • miss t-lee

          Stuff like this is why I can’t stand Disney, and folks think I’m evil for it.

          • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

            I might be with you. I didn’t notice it when I was a kid. But these movies are ridiculous as an adult. Chile, I cain’t.

            • miss t-lee

              I hated that sh*t as a kid…lol

        • Janelle Doe

          I have said this to many people many times ( Mulan, Jasmine and Pocahontas). Thanks for showing me I was not alone.

          • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

            I was taken aback at how enraged by it. In about 10 more years I’ll be sending folks strongly worded letters. LMAO!!! I seriously don’t know why this made me so mad. But to know I’m not the only one seeing this gives me hope that perhaps I am not trash, I’m just trash adjacent.

          • MsSula

            Mulan is my favorite Disney character. She is well rounded.

            • TheUnsungStoryteller

              I LOVE Mulan. I feel like I could relate to her!

        • JennyJazzhands

          Don’t even get me started. I’m still mad the black princess is the only one with a bum, lazy prince and basically had to save herself and him to get to the happy ending. All the white princesses get saved and whisked away to rich castles though.

          • Minx

            Tiana also spent 80% of the movie as an amphibian and I will never get over that they couldn’t even let the first Black Disney princess be Black and human.

            • Darkchloe144

              Not enough welps to give this.

          • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

            Listen!!! I woulda saw Prince Navidad coming and he’da come up missing in that Bayou somewhere. It’s one thing to be broke. It’s another thing to be broke, arrogant and unwilling to do work of any kind. Wait, which is one more thing my excused black behind has to do? Nah, hard pass. Her father was dope though. I’ll give them that much.

            • MsSula

              You stay cracking me up African Mami. Lol.

          • Gibbous

            That’s how we do tho!

        • L8Comer

          “Cinderella had a mouse infestation. ” lmaoo

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            And she lived with grown men who were Dwarfs. That has to be a problem…

            • L8Comer

              Girl, that’s Snow White! You need to brush up on your Disney lol

      • L8Comer

        I feel like that’s true to life tho. Men fall so quick. Not marry, but lock down. And they fall out of it very quickly too lol.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        TRUE. Like how sway? They made it to the altar and everything without ever talking to each other.

      • SimplePseudonym

        Sounds like what a lot of U.S. soldiers did when they brought home wives from being deployed during the Vietnam and Cold Wars. Perhaps that was the inspiration for “The Little Mermaid?”

    • miss t-lee

      “I watched The Little Mermaid 2 days ago and was enraged when I realized that Ariel wants grown woman legs and a man, but doesn’t know what a fork is and it’s use. ”


      • JennyJazzhands

        This gif just kept getting better with each passing second. lol

        • miss t-lee

          You ever seen the video it’s from? Even better.

          • Darkchloe144

            Eartha Kitt is my spirit animal.

            • miss t-lee

              She was so grand.

    • Gail Alonso

      Bambi made me think of Disney, which reminds me that I watched The Little Mermaid 2 days ago and was enraged when I realized that Ariel wants grown woman legs and a man, but doesn’t know what a fork is and it’s use.

      this is the best thing I have ever read.

  • Chris James

    Co-sign so hard. That is all.

  • Valerie

    I mos def agree with this.

  • miss t-lee

    I’ve already listened.
    “Hail To The Chief” was my jam going in…since I’d been listening to it forever already. Still my fave on the album.
    I liked a few other jams, however I haven’t listened to it since the initial listen on Friday.

    I agree with likening it to The Carnival, it had a huge world music feel.

    “He’s socially conscious while still being very much a n*gga.”
    I definitely noticed this when I listened to his Breakfast Club interview over the weekend…lol

    • MsSula

      I usually listen to Long Live The Chief then Chief Don’t Run. Those two work in tandem in my mind.

      • miss t-lee

        I can see this. LLTC been out so long…good to finally have a follow up.

  • OG Mermaid

    I’ve been listening to him all morning. His classic man “Manifesto” as he calls it, is a pretty interesting read.

  • PhlyyPhree

    This album has come up in my “music you should listen to” category on Spotify for a week and today I gave it a whirl at the gym.
    It is good. Thus far I am pleased with what I hear. I liked ‘Long Live the Chief” and “white N iggas” is absolutely fucking hilarious to meand yes awesome in the way he spins it.
    In a weird way, although I wasn’t sure it would be good, I was sure it would be….different? varied? more nuanced than the usual pop music we’re getting right now?
    Like you said, he is a part of the Wondaland collective and while I don’t know if I’ll like everything that comes out of their group, I expect the quality of it to be good.

    • miss t-lee

      “Like you said, he is a part of the Wondaland collective and while I don’t know if I’ll like everything that comes out of their group, I expect the quality of it to be good.”

      I’m waiting on Roman GianArthur’s stuff to drop—he was really the one I’ve been ready to hear.

      • PhlyyPhree

        OK Lady has been out long enough. I need something else from him so I can properly decide how I feel about him too. Lol

        • miss t-lee


        • AlwaysPi7

          OK Lady was a lovely lil treat.

      • AlwaysPi7

        me too, been waiting for Roman.

        • miss t-lee

          He gotta come on with it.

  • Madame Zenobia

    I had to log in for the first time in months, just to co-sign this article. I’ve loved Jidenna since Classic Man. I got laughed at when I played him at a family get together back then, but I knew he was going to be a good one to watch. I loved Long Live the Chief. He was great on Luke Cage and Insecure, le sigh. I was really mad when the album got pushed back, but it’s been worth the wait. Oh yeah, his freestyles and cyphers are dope too. Love this dude. Check out Knickers, Extraordinaire and Deep Cotton on YouTube. Knickers is my ish. Ugh, I love this dude for real. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKAG4zc4kvw

    • miss t-lee

      I loved this freestyle.

    • cakes_and_pies

      I had to do a double take on Luke Cage. I wasn’t expecting THAT.

    • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast


    • MsSula

      You and me both! I remember playing Classic Man for the husband and being snickered at.

      Now he is bopping his head to Long Live the Chief all the live day long. *smh*

      I really like him too.

  • miss t-lee

    I forgot to add, I first heard about him a few years back with Fear & Fancy.
    “Off The Grid” was a jam.

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