International muso and style icon Jidenna talks to us about his debut album Long Live the Chief
By: Fundiswa Nkwanyana
1.My name Jidenna means embracing the father and that is both my name and destiny. My late father loved Africa and he was always trying to redesign its future. I want to do the same through my music. I would like my music to radiate to everyone at the highest level possible.
2. Growing up, music was not encouraged in my household. I grew up building computers; I was told that music was not what the world needed. When I was about 10 years old, I started writing poetry and one of my friends told me there are no rich poets but there are rich rappers, so I started rapping and making beats. I was horrible at the hip hop battles and I still am because I am more of a street poet. Over the years my music and poetry have merged together perfectly.
3. My debut album Long Live the Chief started with one sentence. I obsessed over each and every word because it set the theme of my album. This sentence describes my vision for the album, I want it to feel like a sacred romantic carpet ride that is powered by Tesla but driven by the African James Bond. A studio was built specifically for this album and I had a shrine in the studio where I prayed for the album. There was some praying, drinking and smoking at the shrine which led to me getting into the zone and playing instruments and creating music.
4. The album is about the trials and tribulations of a young man. As he discovers what it means to be a man and the responsibility theme in interwoven throughout the album. When my father passed I became in many ways the man of the family and my journey through that is visible in my album.
5. I will collaborate with anybody that I vibe with and if there is no one that I vibe that is cool too. As long as your spirit is right, I will collaborate with you. I have worked with artists that are not present and are about the money and I did not like that. I view music as priesthood in the same way Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley interpreted music.
6. My look is never complete without a line up. I have a polished style paired with tailored suits with collar shirts but unless my hair cut has a fresh line up, my look is not complete. Black men are the most well-groomed in terms of haircuts around the world. You can have your hair long or short but without a line up, it’s not really complete.