Chief Jidenna Meets King Vere
Jidenna walked out dripping and oozing swagger. He was tagged by his dreamy looking manager and six-foot tall danger repellent (his bodyguard). The room was deprived of lighting but his presence was a beacon that lit it up. He strolled out kitted in his signature awe-jerking threads. He was donned in red velvet loafers, blue pants, a crisp white shirt with a stiff collar, a blue waistcoat that had a gold chain running into his pocket and a red hat contrasted with some black taping with one side punched inwards. His hand flew out to me, extending a handshake and he looked me in the eyes with an impenetrable impression that suggested that he knew, understood and appreciated me.
We shook hands and as per the protocol of two fashion aficionados our beaks were wetted by the exchange of pleasantries accounting our looks. I donned brown crocheted-like loafers, dark blue pants, a magenta round-neck shirt covered with a shimmer of gold and shapes of different colours, round nerd glasses and a black cap inscribed “Be Bold”. We spoke briefly about our origins; touching on where I’m from and educating him about my fashion culture. In that fleeting moment our fashion antennas connected and we were locked into a brotherhood.
I sat in a chair opposite him while he sat on a velvet purple couch next to a quaint orange and ashy leather bag. I fired a list of questions loaded on my phone. He answered back. He was calm, confident, and had a swanky aura in the way he was planted in his seat. His hands assisted him in articulating himself as they swirled and twirled in the air and occasionally banging on the armrest to drum out his more musical related answers.
His Nigerian accent was almost entirely masked by his American one. However, there were instances when it crept in when he impersonated what his father had once told him in an authoritative Nigerian accent he roared “Jidenna! If you commit a crime I will personally call 911 on you”. He was scantily flared up at this point as he was addressing the economics of respect between international artists. His nuances demanded some brain power but the picture took shape when he mentioned how African artists have this disillusion of outperforming American artists when they wish to crossover. He sneered up a cataclysmic imagery of the events that would follow brought upon his wrath if he were challenged. But his premeditated doom was also met with some brotherly advice as he encouraged African artists to be authentic and mix the sounds and flavours of the cultures that exist to blend in with their vision.
It was time to rummage through his ideological framework and what better way than to claw into his famed Classic Manifesto. The chief gobbled up the question and produced an answer that stringed up a concoction of ideas rooted on the references of his hit song “Classic Man” (2015). Like a benevolent leader anchoring his ideas into the souls of many he empathically touched on about how it’s beyond cherry-picking the dandy-esque visual elements but how that should intertwine with men outgrowing their boyish ways and becoming gentlemen with principle and purpose.
His train of thought finally slowed down and he simmered to a lighter, playful version of himself. Like a smitten adolescent with a blood-gorged groin Jidenna laced up how he felt entranced by the physical form of a woman. The room gathered into a revelry of loud cheers but in the same lustful breath, the classic man finessed the script as he added that to him the woman’s body is a window that attracts but the mind maintains his affection.
What stood most about the classic man was his zeal and very passion surrounding his work. He consistently felt the need to elaborate on his ideologies, tastes and music by stretching further and speaking livelier. You could say he was like a mirror image of Gatsby reaching for the green light at the end of the deck. But Jidenna’s green light manifests itself entirely different. He released his single “Just A Lil Bit More” (2016) in Africa owing it largely to his afropositivism. His knowledge about African artists ran through from classics like Oliver Mtukudzi to contemporaries like Kwesta. And his openness to collaborate, travel and build Africa is a grand affair that has blueprints in the pipeline.
We could have went on for hours but a tap on my shoulders suggested that our time was up. We gradually rose up, posed for some pictures and bid our goodbyes. As I left the building what lingered most about the classic man was the power he attributed to his dressing. I was reminded of this when he bobbed his head as his eyes glimmered “you can get away with anything when you’re wearing a suit” he said. This is a sentiment I also share but my pocket-sized version goes like “style is empowering”.