Bridging The Diaspora: A Review of Jidenna's '85 to Africa'
A few weeks ago, I saw a meme on Tumblr that said, “To be African American is to be African without memory and to be American without privilege”. I felt this in my spirit, particularly because it’s true. I often find myself having those discussions with my friends from other cultures. They usually end with me reminding them that they have a culture to call their own. They can take pride in knowing that their family is from Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, or where ever they’re from. I say that to say, while I cannot say for sure where my lineage comes from, I do know that I have African blood coursing through my veins. With this in mind, I’m constantly looking for ways to connect with Mother Africa. It is in this regard that I can appreciate Jidenna’s “85 to Africa”. While the album is not perfect, it does work as an auditory bridge to the motherland.
Sonically, this album is widespread covering multiple bases as once. Afrobeats are in full force throughout, yet Jidenna manages to still show versatility with party records such as the title track, '85 to Africa'. The intro track 'Worth the Weight' includes a clip of Seun Kuti, son of the legendary legend Fela Kuti.
The love of black culture is on full display throughout this album. The song 'Babouche' is a groovy reference to the Moroccan shoe highlighting culture through fashion. 'Sou Sou' speaks to the importance of communal wealth, while the songs 'Sufi Woman' and 'Zodi' discuss the beauty and spirituality of black women. The song 'Tribe' speaks to the tribalism to which we as black people almost innately subscribe whether through family, Greek organizations or gangs.
Overall, this is a feel good album that feels like a meeting in the black student union on campus. There is something for everyone. While there are a variety of sounds and topics discussed throughout this album, it feels remains inherently cohesive.