Jidenna Takes His Time To Make Music With A Message. This Video Is Worth The Wait

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Jidenna recently released his first project in more than two years. 85 To Africa thematically connects the singer, rapper, actor, and scholar’s Atlanta lifestyle to his African heritage. Following a Grammy-nominated 2016-2017 campaign, the 34-year-old Wisconsin native has taken his time since The Chief and later EP, Boomerang. With involvement by GoldLink and DJ Dahi, 85 To Africa is another stylized listen.

The LP on Janelle Monae’s Wondaland imprint begins with “Worth The Weight,” featuring Fela’s son, Seun Kuti. The pointed song opens with a question about accountability in modern times. From environmental woes and disharmony, the song intro raises the same question as Gang Starr, “who’s gonna take the weight?”

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As he did on breakout anthems from The Chief, Jidenna delivers his vocals with pride and swagger. “Every move is bold, ain’t no time for bein’ subtle, bro / In the face of evil, I can find the needle, haystack / Could have freed my people if this weed was legal way back / Po-po spun the wheel on misfortune, but I ain’t play that / They come round and pat-pat-pat us down but I ain’t say jack / I escaped the trap, I escaped the cubicles, bro / I escaped the drive by’s, drop the funerals, bro / And I beat the case, and I beat the chase, woah woah / Can I keep the pace? Can I keep the pace? I dunno / know I escaped them try’na bleach a ni**a’s brain / Coulda went to Wall Street. Instead, I built up my own lane.

Jidenna’s visual is a choreographed party to the powerful message. According to his lyrics, the renaissance man did it his way—and with conviction. He wants the same for others. Sideshows, dancing, and giving game to the camera make this a grand affair. Dahi (Mac Miller, Big K.R.I.T., Pusha-T, ScHoolboy Q) co-produced the song.

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Several songs from 85 To Africa, including “Worth The Weight,” currently appear on the official Ambrosia For Heads playlist.