The BET awards pre-shows sailed under the radar of the Nigerian media, so we understand why nobody has been talking about this.
Grammy-nominated Rapper and singer, Jidenna appears to be taking cues from Drake’s embrace of the global pop scene to make more Afro-inspired music. Prelude to his performance at the BET awards red carpet, the Nigerian-American artist revealed via twitter that he would be premiering new music on the award show’s stage.
Jidenna earned our attention after the success of his smash hit, Classic Man last year and it’s subsequent remix featuring Kendrick Lamar, so it was only expected that he opened his BET set with the single. Donning a signature Ankara shirt with canary-coloured pants and vest, he lurched into Chief Don’t Run a tribute to his upbringing and the affluence of African chiefs.
With the crowd already irate for his the single, Jidenna followed up with a performance of a heavily Nigerian pop influenced Little Bit More a preppy love song set on bouncy drop-kick arrangements the Nigerian soundscape is already overly familiar with and lined with back ground vocals of a woman chanting tribal rhythms. The real winners of Jiddenna’s set were back-up dancers who accentuated the already poignant African drums in the song with dance moves that incorporated elements of Shoki and Kukere with slight hip-hop twists and turns.
In some instance, Jidenna’s gradual embrace of the Nigerian sound may be coming late considering he has a direct descent with the origin country of the soundscape. But the rapper will be joining outliers like Alicia Keys, Drake, JayZ and Vampire Weekend amongst others who have already strategically positioned themselves to benefit from the sounds growing appeal. Coupled with his already active Nigerian fan base, Jidenna may finally be one of the few American-born Nigerian artists to balance an appeal to both local and international audiences successfully.
Ladies and gentlemen, African music ti take over