It’s a great time for hip-hop. More and more rappers are talking about real issues that people actually experience every day. One rapper among this group that definitely stands out is Jidenna. An organizer, teacher, and artist that knows what he is talking about, is making a difference and, let’s be honest, dresses fresh AF.
We still remember the first time we heard about Jidenna. We were in Baltimore just a couple of weeks after the protests. People in the streets were playing strong tracks such as Skepta’s “It Ain’t Safe” and Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power,” and the atmosphere was tense. In the midst of it all, we walked into a friends’ house only to find her shaking her bootie to a song we had never heard before, “Classic Man.” What the heck are you doing dancing around when all this mess is going on, woman? She told us to shut up, watch the music video and listen to the words. We did, a few consecutive times. We first focused on Jidenna’s style (a rapper wearing a suit, what?), then on his cane, then on the music, finally on the lyrics and that’s when we shut up.
“I burn through the hood like whoa
When everybody’s feeling so cold
I cool like Nat King Cole
And niggas get a bit of my glow”
That’s the moment we realized Jidenna was going to change the game.
Fast forward a couple of years, we have seen Jidenna performing at venues and festivals around the world, diffusing a message of unity, anti-conformism and strength.
Even though Jidenna’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! concert was for a small crowd (of which we were honored to be a part of), he put up a Berkeley-center worthy performance. And so did his band. Everybody on stage took part to the performance. From coordinated outfits to coordinated dance moves, they didn’t simply put up a show. They put up a party. Jidenna was smiling, dancing, jumping and singing left and right on the stage, exuding energy and passion. While he was performing, he responded with a smile to those who were singing along and encouraged others that weren’t to dance around and have fun by looking at them in the eyes and making encouraging gestures with his hands. The audience was engaged with the performance, responded well to the new tracks (which we cannot share with you because we weren’t allowed to tape them :'[ ) and turned up to the old ones, including “Classic Man,” which we have recorded and edited for you below.
Jidenna didn’t have his signature cane with him. However, a member of his crew handed him an extra microphone stick that functioned as one. Fantastic.