photo provided by USA Today
Okay so this is my last blogpost. I know, I know it’s so very sad but to end it off with a bang, I thought we would spotlight the smooth Jidenna Theodore Mobisson, otherwise known as Jidenna! He is signed with the iconic Janelle Monae at her record label Wondaland Records. Spending some of his early childhood living in Nigeria, and then relocating to the U.S, Jidenna has the best of both worlds in his music highlighting both Nigerian and African American culture. The first time I’d ever heard his music was the song “Bambi” and there was just a richness in his voice that was perfect for storytelling. I loved that he never strayed from his Nigerian roots and was always bridging the gap between American and Nigerian through his music. I actually didn’t know he rapped until doing this post so I was pretty excited to get to hear more from him.
For this last post, I’ve decided to talk about his song “Black Magic Hour”, which is an homage to Jidenna’s Nigerian roots.
Black Magic Hour is a mystical rap song. From the beat to the bass, Jidenna’s producer mixes modern rap beats with music reminiscent of a Harry Potter movie or Twitches. It really gives fantasy. Right from the bat, Jidenna starts the song talking about his ancestry rapping, “I’m from a long line of Chiefs I was made in their image/ Grandfather married seven wives in the village/ Never sold a slave and the British couldn’t kill him/And they call it Black Magic when they baffled by the physics”. There’s so much to unpack just from the beginning alone. Jidenna points out the genius of his Nigerian ancestors and the power they had. He is detailing how his ancestors were good people and how the British couldn’t stop them so they put this dark label on them and what they believed in, in order to create a sense of inferiority and evil when people think of them.
It’s also interesting to note the way he adds African American Pop culture into the song as well. He mentions believing in Magic Johnson and a Morgan Freeman performance. He also mentions Black Panther in the song, which is a movie that brought Africans of all types in the diaspora together.
image provided by Set by Skye
He wants the listener to understand that Colonizers and Enslavers created a narrative one day and everyone just ran with it. Black Magic and voodoo were labels created for a lot of African traditions that have been misrepresented and labeled as evil. As Nigerians, we all understand and believe that some of these things are dark and one must be careful dealing with certain people and ideas but labeling everything as such is so wrong. Jidenna brings this point across so powerfully with the music video as well. The video really gives a dark wakanda with a lot of red and fire in it. There are a lot of traditional Nigerian masks as well. The music video plays to the title of the song “Black Magic Hour”. It combines imagery of voodoo and sorcery with figurative images of Black magic showing pictures of Nigerian chiefs and kingdoms. It plays on what we as Nigerians know to be real and true about who we are versus what people have been told.