Jidenna - 'The Chief' (Album Review)

Jidenna is an artist you may have spotted around. He's been making waves for a couple years and even appeared in Netflix's hit show Marvel's Luke Cage. He is signed to Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland label and he's most notable for having his self described "dandy" fashion which focuses on him dressing in a sort of 'classic' dapper style. I guess if you'd like to hear him explain it check out his hit song "Classic Man" where he describes it for the listener. I mean anyone familiar with these type of things would probably tag this a gimmick to kind of catch attention and stick out. I can't say for sure, but it feels that way. Janelle Monáe sort of does the same thing. At least I'm inclined to believe it. I've seen some people posting older pictures of Jidenna and he dressed fairly regular before making his big music debut. All the image stuff aside I think "Classic Man" is an interesting song. It was good enough that I was anticipating and wanting to give his debut album 'The Chief' a listen.

'The Chief' is one of those type of albums that has a lot of crossover appeal for listeners of various genres. The albums real goal seems to be being versatile and showcasing Jidenna's various abilities on the mic. He's showed before that he can be both a good vocalist and rapper and I think he continues to do both pretty well on this album. I think the very good production and well thought out beats and instruments create a really nice flowing album that can at times be strange in flow, but it works better than it doesn't.

It's interesting to hear Jidenna move from a more pop oriented radio friendly song to a more hard edged hip hop song. It has pop appeal with a song like "Helicopters/Beware" which sounds like it could be a song that would easily catch on at radio. It has a really interesting mixture of a pop sound that reminds me of Wyclef Jean mixed with something similar to trap rap. "Long Live The Chief" has some of the harder rap edge and the beat has this hard hitting vibe with some wobbly sounding bass elements that I really like. It's a big stand out on the album and one I definitely would recommend checking out. "Bambi" was released as a single and it kind of has a classic 50s doowop sort of sound mixed again with some trap elements. When I first heard the song I really didn't like it all that much, but it has grown on me especially in the context of the album. I still think there might be a few better single choices as it's not as big of a standout, for me.

I think 'The Chief' is an album that strives to be diverse and it mostly succeeds. It doesn't feel wholeheartedly as unique as I think Jidenna probably wants it to be. There is a formula to it and it seems to be presenting the listener with these pop tracks to draw you in and then it hits you with some of the more edgy, raw rap songs. It mostly alternates that vibe throughout. It's definitely interesting to go back and forth and I think Jidenna's ability to do multiple things well makes the album succeed more than it doesn't. I ended up really liking this more than I thought I would after I heard "Bambi". I think one thing this album does prove is that Jidenna is more than just the image he has cultivated over the last couple of years. This album is pretty solid and overall a good listen. Check this one out.

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