ACL Review: Jidenna

Dude is so cold his hype man doesn’t use a mic

A half-Nigerian Stanford graduate who won over Janelle Monáe while hosting a masquerade ball with his social club, Jidenna may, in fact, be the most interesting man in the world.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

While other artists killed time between festival weekends by playing a roadshow in say, Tulsa, Jidenna was literally skydiving in Dubai while wearing a three-piece suit that wouldn’t be out of place in a Storyville nightclub circa 1900. That’s just how he rolls.

It’s unclear exactly how you land on the ACL mainstage (albeit early in the day) with only one official song released to your name, but Jidenna possesses such supreme swagger that he makes you believe anything’s possible. Dude is so cold his hype man doesn’t use a mic. It helps if your lone release is a smash hit, and “Classic Man” is that by any measure.

Segueing into his swanky calling card, Jidenna casually inferred that his usual walking cane – the one with a hidden chamber concealing five shots of liquor – was confiscated by United Arab Emirates security officials. Happens to the best of us, man. Travel hiccups aside, the chorus ponied up a tony sing-along: “You can be mean when you look this clean, I’m a classic man.”

The 30-year-old Wondaland artist introduced Monáe-collaboration “Yoga” with a riddle: “What do hippies, hipsters, and yuppies all have in common?” The bulk of Jidenna’s unreleased material follows the “Classic Man” formula: ultra-catchy, singsong hip-hop.

“Some Kind of Way” revealed a distinct Afro-pop vibe. Straight raps were rare, but the autobiographical bars of “Long Live the Chief” stacked quotable after quotable: “I met Bill Clinton when I was 17, but dead presidents is all my niggas need.”

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Jidenna, ACL Fest 2015, Janelle Monáe, Bill Clinton

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