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Jidenna performing in 2015
Jidenna performing in 2015
Background information
Birth nameJidenna Theodore Mobisson
Born (1985-05-04) May 4, 1985 (age 35)
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, U.S.
Years active2015–present
  • Fear & Fancy
  • Wondaland
  • Epic
Associated acts

Jidenna Theodore Mobisson (born May 4, 1985), better known mononymously as Jidenna, is a Nigerian-American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer.[2][3] In 2015, Jidenna released two singles, "Classic Man" and "Yoga", promoting Janelle Monáe's label Wondaland Records' compilation EP The Eephus with Epic Records.[4] His debut album, The Chief was released on February 17, 2017 and peaked at number 38 on the Billboard 200.[5]

Early life and education

Jidenna Theodore Mobisson was born on May 4, 1985 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin,[6][7] to Tama Mobisson, a Caucasian accountant, and Oliver Mobisson, a Nigerian Igbo academic. Jidenna grew up partially in Nigeria, where his father was working as a professor of computer science at Enugu State University.[3] When Jidenna was 6 years old, the family moved back to the United States.[3] In 1995, the family moved to Norwood, Massachusetts, and then to Milton, Massachusetts, in 2000.[8] His father died in 2010.[3]

In high school he became a co-founder of the rap group Black Spadez, and began producing, arranging and writing. Jidenna released his first album with Black Spadez as their final project at Milton Academy, where Jidenna graduated in 2003.[9] In 2008, after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University,[10][11] he pursued his music career while working full-time as a teacher, moving between Los Angeles, Oakland, Brooklyn and Atlanta, before signing a deal with recording artist Janelle Monáe's Wondaland Records.[12]


Jidenna performing in Seattle

Jidenna is signed to Janelle Monáe's Wondaland Records label and distributed through Epic Records.[13][14] He has collaborated with a number of artists that are signed to this label; including Roman GianArthur, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton and Janelle Monáe herself, and then began recording a five-song compilation of its label's first extended play (EP), titled The Eephus.[15] In February 2015, Jidenna released his first official single, called "Classic Man"[16] featuring GianArthur. The song was in heavy rotation throughout the United States,[17] and debuted at number 49 on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.[18]

On March 31, 2015, the second single from the EP was released – "Yoga" by Janelle Monáe and Jidenna.[19] His song "Classic Man" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 58th Grammy Awards.[20] In June of the same year, Jidenna performed the song with Monáe at the BET Awards.[9] Jidenna also received an award for best new artist at the 2015 Soul Train Music Awards in November.[21]

Jidenna is a founding member of Fear & Fancy, a social club that began in California in 2006.[3] The society, reminiscent of the social aid and pleasure clubs of New Orleans, is an international collective of entrepreneurs, activists, educators, scientists, and artists who host soirees, dinner parties, and demonstrations.[22]

In June 2016 he released the single "Chief Don't Run".[23] On February 17, 2017, Jidenna released The Chief, his first studio album.[24] The album cover pays homage to Boz Scaggs' Middle Man album. The lead singles "Sufi Woman" and "Tribe" were released on July 26, 2019 and will appear on his second studio album 85 to Africa.

In 2019 Jidenna released his follow up album 85 to Africa. It Garnered praise as Dan-O's (co-founder of favorite album of the year. He lauded its consistency and spirit "85 To Africa doesn't go from 10 to 7 to 4, every song is an 8.5 and you can let one song run into the next." [25]


Jidenna stated that his major influences include KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane,[26] as well as the Nigerian Highlife music genre.[27]

Over the years, the singer developed his personal style in college, where he learned about the power of fashion from his psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. However, he would not adopt his signature dandy style until the death of his father in 2010.[9] Jidenna describes his look as "heavily inspired by the Harlem Renaissance with hints of traditional West African design," and a "marriage of European and African aesthetics."[28] Jidenna currently resides in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.[29]

Appearances in popular media

In September 2016, Jidenna was featured in an episode of the Netflix original series Luke Cage. Season 1 episode 5, "Just to Get a Rep", opens with Jidenna performing "Long Live the Chief" at the fictitious Harlem's Paradise. He performed "Long Live the Chief" and "Little Bit More" with a full band on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in October 2016.[30] Jidenna guest starred on Insecure in the episodes "Thirsty as Fuck," and "Shady as Fuck," which aired in November 2016.[31]

A chopped and screwed version of "Classic Man" featured in the Academy Award winning 2016 film Moonlight.


Awards and nominations

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2016[35] "Classic Man" (featuring Roman GianArthur) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated

Soul Train Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2015 Himself Best New Artist Won
"Classic Man" (featuring Roman GianArthur) Song of the Year Won
Video of the Year Won
"Yoga" (with Janelle Monáe) Best Dance Performance Won


  1. ^ Caramanica, Jon (February 15, 2017). "Jidenna's 'The Chief' Is a Genre-Hopping Debut Album". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  2. ^ Akan, Joey. "Jidenna: Why is US singer such a big deal in Nigeria?". Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fitzmaurice, Larry (March 17, 2017). "Hail to the Chief: Jidenna will be performing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth on April 29th. GO DOGS! Jidenna's Incredible, Globe-Spanning Journey". Noisey. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Brown, Harley (July 1, 2015). "Jidenna: The Classic Man With a (Semi-Secret) Plan". SPIN. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  5. ^ "Jidenna Presents Debut Album at L.A. Listening Party". Rap-Up. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  6. ^ Forgenie, Cacy (March 20, 2015). "A Star Is Found: Jidenna Mobisson: A "Classic Man"". Flavorpill. Flavorpill Media. Archived from the original on April 24, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  7. ^ Amaya Mendizabal, "Tomorrow's Hits: Jidenna, Ashley Clark & Jasmine Thompson", Billboard, May 15, 2015: "Born in Wisconsin, and raised for a period in Nigeria, the nomadic singer has since resided in several stateside cities and is currently based in Brooklyn."
  8. ^ Drake, David (March 1, 2015). "Bout to Blow: 10 Dope Songs You Should Be Hearing Everywhere Soon". Complex. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Murray, Nick. "'Classic Man' Singer Jidenna on How His Father's Death Inspired His Dandy Style: 'It Was My Way of Grieving'" 16 Jan 2016. Billboard Vol 128.1
  10. ^ "Happy Birthday Jidenna". People Magazine. April 5, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  11. ^ "20th Anniversary: Fall 2016". Stanford University Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  12. ^ "Janelle Monáe's Artist Jidenna Releases New Music Video 'Classic Man'". Necole Bithcie. February 23, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Aswad, Jem (February 13, 2015). "Janelle Monáe Becomes a Mini-Mogul With Her Revamped Label". Billboard. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  14. ^ Diaz, Evelyn (February 21, 2015). "Janelle Monáe Appears in Classic Man by Jidenna". BET. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  15. ^ "Janelle Monáe: I Come in Peace, But I Mean Business". BET. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  16. ^ "Classic Man feat Roman GianArthur". Soul Central Magazine. Archived from the original on February 17, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  17. ^ "Hot New Music! Jidenna - Classic Man". WJMN Jam'n 94.5. February 10, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  18. ^ Trust, Gary (March 23, 2015). "Chart Highlights: Madonna's Ghosttown Debuts on Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  19. ^ Blistein, Jon (March 31, 2015). "Janelle Monae Flows Through New Song 'Yoga'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  20. ^ "Grammy Nominations 2016: See the Full List of Nominees". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 7, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  21. ^ Mitchell, Gail (November 29, 2015). "The Weeknd, 'Uptown Funk' and Jidenna Big Winners at 2015 Soul Train Awards". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Door That Opens You: Why Whippa Wiley Brings You Magic, Fear and Fancy". Afropunk. November 10, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  23. ^ Spanos, Brittany (June 28, 2016). "Hear Jidenna's Confident New Song 'Chief Don't Run'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  24. ^ Feig, Zakk (February 3, 2017). "Jidenna Announces Release Date For Debut Album "The Chief"". Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  25. ^
  26. ^ DJ Vlad. "Jidenna Details His Choice to Wear Tailored Suits as a Rapper". YouTube. VladTV. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  27. ^ Weiner, Natalie (September 11, 2015). "Jidenna Talks Classic Men and How He's Influenced by Nigerian Music". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  28. ^ "Fashion Bomber of the Day: Jidenna from Brooklyn". Fashion Bomb Daily. The Fashion Bomb LLC. April 17, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  29. ^ Coleman, C. Vernon (February 21, 2015). "Watch Jidenna and Roman GianArthur's 'Classic Man' Video". XXL Mag. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  30. ^ "Marvel's Luke Cage Music - S1E5: "Just To Get A Rep" - TuneFind".
  31. ^ Ray-Harris, Ashley. "Issa loses momentum in a stagnant Insecure". Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  32. ^, HipHopDX- (November 13, 2017). "Review: Jidenna Snaps Back To Form With "Boomerang" EP". HipHopDX. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  33. ^ "Jidenna drops surprise EP, Boomerang: Stream/download". Consequence of Sound. November 10, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  34. ^ Boomerang - EP by Jidenna, retrieved September 3, 2019
  35. ^ "Grammy Nominees 2016: The Full List". December 7, 2013. Archived from the original on December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2015.

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