I like Jidenna for a lot of reasons. He’s a humble guy who has made an impact in the American music industry and still looks back to where he came from. What makes me like him even more that he understood why East Africans are mad Beyonce and the whole Lion King debacle. I remember being so mad about it. Anyway, Jidenna dropped 85 to Africa and it is a compelling listen.
85 to Africa is the second studio album by Jidenna. The first album, The Chief, was not so great with the exception of a few singles. In 85 to Africa, Jidenna gives us 11 tracks which have a theme to it. The metaphorical highway to the continent is basically the theme of the whole album. He made it easy for numpties to understand what he is going on about.
So, 85 to Africa goes something like this: contemporary hip hop at the beginning in the first half and slowly progresses to Afro-pop music. I like the transition when you listen to the album in its chronological order. Btw, you better turn off your shuffle mode for this album.
The first half of the album is just fine. The tracks are your typical rap songs; nothing new that you haven’t heard before. I did like the beats though. My only issue was thinking that those were the only songs on offer and I told myself listening experience wouldn’t be that exciting. Babouche and Tribe are my favorite tracks in the first half.
We then transition to the Afro-pop inspired second half and it kicks off with Zodi which features Mr Eazi. That song removes all my doubts and I got more interested in the album. Quick diversion, am I the only one who gets happy when Mr Eazi says Zagadat? The best track has to be Vaporiza, an easy RnB track. That is Jidenna at his best. You can even feel that he really enjoyed making the song with the excellent instrumentals.
The album concludes with The Other Half, an urban track that sees Jidenna back to default settings. It’s a decent ending to the otherwise good listen. Of course, opinions differ with every music critic so allow me to explain why I like it.
Diversity in the culture
In a world where all the rappers sound the same, diversity is something that will make you stand out from the rest. I mean, that’s how you gain a following don’t you? Jidenna has definitely stood out with him embracing his Nigerian roots. This is actually a good thing as African music is slowly entering the mainstream music. Look at the impact Davido and Wizkid are making right now.
Diversity is what this album needed and I’m glad that is what we got. If he stuck to rapping through all the 11 tracks, it would have been a mediocre album at best. With the addition of Afro-pop inspired tracks, it makes everything better. We get to see a side of Jidenna that is new and interesting as compared to just being a rapper. Like I said, rappers sound the same nowadays and it gets boring real quick.
85 to Africa is an album that sees Jidenna embracing contemporary urban music and his African heritage. A decent listen in my opinion. To be honest, just put your attention as of track number 6 moving forward. 7.5/10