Diasporia Artist – Jidenna’s Long Live the Chief

Other diaspora artists like Wale and Skepta seek to incorporate aspects of their family’s culture to the culture that they have grew up in. For example, Wale’s identification as a DMV artist does not stop him from incorporating elements of go-go music, while making references to Nigerian culture in his songs. However, Jidenna is markedly different from other diaspora artists because he not only integrates his Nigerian culture into his music, but into his fashion and entire image. 

Jidenna is known for his eccentric style with his finger-wave hairstyle, three-piece suits, a cane, and occasionally vibrant prints that reference not only Nigerian style, but style during prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance. Jidenna was born in Wisconsin to a white mother and a Nigerian father. After living in Nigeria for 6 years, he moved back to the United States. His life experience in Nigeria and the United States has allowed him to  use those cultural influences as topics in his music.

In the video “Long Live the Chief” Jidenna is shown wearing an Igbo chief hat against a black background where he references Nigeria by his use of the term chief; a reference to not only Nigerian culture but specifically his father. His continuous use of the phrase “Long Live the Chief” while showing that Jidenna is in a funeral in the video also seems to show homage to Jidenna’s father that died in 2010. In the song, Jidenna also says
“Cockroaches and the rat shit, Hand me downs with the patches, Mama put a little money in the mattress, Taught me how to make a silver spoon out of plastic” which may also symbolize his life in the United States and the lessons his mother has taught him.

In his other songs like “Classic Man”, Jidenna also embraces these two cultures in his video through his lyrics and fashion sense. Jidenna continues to push the bar as an artist in the diaspora that not only celebrates his Nigerian culture, but also makes references to African American history and culture.

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