Jidenna, the dapper Janelle Monáe associate best known for his 2015 hit “Classic Man,” is back today with two new songs and news of a new album. The LP, 85 To Africa, is inspired by Jidenna’s move to Africa after he was unceremoniously evicted from the Atlanta mansion he was renting in 2017. The YouTube description on his new album trailer fleshes out the story:
One fateful morning in the summer of 2017, Jidenna Mobisson found himself on the wrong end of the barrel of a gun. Armed with weapons and warrants, local police officers flooded the eight-bedroom mansion he and his team had been subletting in the suburbs of Atlanta. Unbeknownst to the world-renowned entertainer, the home’s owner had been grievously delinquent on mortgage payments and had lost the house in a foreclosure auction. Jidenna was being evicted. As movers dumped his possessions into boxes, the home’s new residents watched from the sidelines and smiled at his misfortune. Reflecting on the moment that would ultimately set the stage for his remarkable new album, “85 to Africa,” he says that being unceremoniously booted from his home of three years, “felt like the story of being black in America. We’re living in this beautiful house by the lake, that cul-de-sac life. Everything is dandy, career’s going well, we’re paying the lease on time, we’re doing everything right and then, out of nowhere, at 6am in the morning, we’re displaced.” His cul-de-sac dreams dashed and a tour looming on the horizon, Jidenna decided to hit the road and not return to the United States until the spirit moved him. “We had no where to come home,” he says, “so we ended up going back to Africa.”
The first two tracks we’re hearing from the album are called “Sufi Woman” and “Tribe.” The former is a hip-swinger that applies trap drum programming and Auto-Tune accents to decades-old global sounds. The latter is a more distinctly modern slow groove. “Put your pride in the trash bin, too much ego in the captions,” Jidenna raps. “Don’t get swept up like a Tesla you ain’t really need the gas in.”
Hear both songs below, where you can also watch the album trailer.
85 To Africa is out 8/23 on Epic.