Jidenna is building up steam and gaining musical momentum. Since the world was introduced to the infectious melodies of his debut single, “Classic Man” nearly 2 years ago, the Wondaland artist has held fans over with head- knodding tracks like “Long Live The Chief” and “Knicker” teamed up with Janelle Monae for “Yoga” and most recently teased the followers with the lullaby-esque track, “Bambi.”
With less than 4 hours until the release of his debut album, The Chief, the debonair artist hit the stage for his first show with Pepsi Sound Drop, a national campaign that has been showcasing and connecting new artists with their fans throughout the country. Held at PepsiCo’s Kola House (February 16), an intimate crowd of followers and supporters braved the bitter cold and filed into New York City’s Meatpacking District.
“It’s been great working with Pepsi and working with Sway. They’ve been great collaborators with what we’re trying to do. Hopefully, we gave everyone a great show tonight and they’re as proud as we are. There’s always more to come.”
While patiently waiting for the man of the hour to appear, attendees trickled in, enjoyed cocktails and listened to the body-moving, afro-fused tunes spun by Jidenna’s long-time collaborator and producer, Nana Kwabena. Showing more love and support, the Wondaland leader, activist and musician Janelle Monae entered the building with fellow artist Nate “Rocket” Wonder ready to celebrate the musical family latest milestone.
Once the fog machine cranked on, the show kicked off and the rest was history. In between performances of previously released tracks like “Little Bit More” and “Extraordinaire,” the Naija boy introduced the crowd to new tracks like “Trampoline” and “Helicopters,” while taking the audience on a genre-bending ride. Before segueing into “Some Kind of Way,” the Stanford University alum took a moment to address our passivity towards important issues concerning our country versus our concern and debates for comments like the one made by singer Adele during the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
Before moving into the crowd and having “lit” moments with the Wondaland family and Fear & Fancy tribe on stage, the former substitute teacher entered the crowd one last time for the perfect parting number, “The Let Out.” After regrouping and cooling down from his high-energy set, VIBE briefly caught up with Jidenna and asked about his favorite tracks the album. “My favorite songs are ‘Bambi,’ ‘Bully of the Earth’ – because that’s the very last song I wrote and ‘2 Points,’ where I kind of go in on somebody who had done the tribe crooked. I love that one. Also ‘A Bull’s Tale,’ the intro where I talk about burying my father [in Nigeria]. Those right now are my favorite, but it changes every month.”
Although The Chief doesn’t come with appearances from other major artists, he shared that it’s with good reason. “All the features are from Wonderland [family]. I did do features with [other] artists, but it didn’t feel right on the album unless you were a part of the crew. Not quite J. Cole, but like imagine J. Cole with his team and community. That’s what felt right for me,” he continued.
When asked three words to describe his new LP, he paused until the following words hit him and replied, ” Diverse, mighty and vulnerable.”