Jidenna Theodore Mobisson introduced himself to the hip hop world with his viral hit “Classic Man” in 2015. The song was nominated for a Grammy under the category of Best Rap/Sung Performance, representing how much influence the song had during its peak. Since then, Jidenna has released two albums in 2017 and 2019.
So what’re his roots? Jidenna came from a two-parent mixed race household with his mother being Caucasian and his father being Nigerian Igbo. He was born in Wisconsin, spent some of his childhood in Nigeria before moving back to the United States. In an interview, he speaks up about the hardships of growing up as a lightskin Nigerian man.
The name Jidenna means “Hold unto the father/God” in Igbo and he has carried out this meaning through his work. His debut album, “The Chief”, paid homage to his late father and his roots. One of his father’s goals were to ensure that his family could travel freely without any restrictions and Jidenna has seen most of the world thanks to his parents. “Chief” represents the highest parts of self and what comes out when you’re defending the ones you love. He talks about his album further in this NPR interview. The picture below is an excellent depiction of his tie between America and Africa.
Jidenna has always paid homage to Nigeria and cherishes the time he spent there as a child. He speaks about how his childhood shaped his world perspective being that he learned how to walk, talk and behave from a Nigerian standpoint. “The Chief” gained him attention in Nigeria with drum beats, horns and African sayings and proverbs sprinkled into song names and the actual song lyrics. His second album, “85 to Africa”, relied even heaver on African aesthetics with Afrobeats and highlife music being intwined in the production. The inspiration for this album came from his previous tour where he added on more show dates in Africa. This gave him plenty of time to indulge in the culture once again and served as a breath of fresh air from American life. He openly expressed his discontent with Trump being in office and felt that the trip to Africa was a much needed break from the executive office. America has grown to love him with his hit singles but his most recent album hasn’t garnered as much attention in the States for this Nigerian-American rapper. We’re excited to see what else Jidenna has in store for both audiences, here and in Africa.
You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same handle as his name @jidenna.