Jidenna’s creative impulse and charismatic classic man status with much loyalty to the two-piece suit has been soaring across continents. If he were a new sensation or a rookie in the game, we would have said he is the next best thing, but his hit singles had made it to the Grammy’s and BET stages and back; a dream certain artists with sophomore albums had not seen or been able to achieve (We will be concentrating on the imagery, the lyrical review had been done justice to already on this site).
The prologue of the video which is reminiscent of Mario Puzo’s “The God Father” – except for a different kind of mafioso approach, strikes a very strong chord: Jidenna as a man of the people, giving counsel and being a confident reliable man. The video’s black and white classic outlook and symbolic portrait of an African chief – arguably a Nigerian Igbo chief, struck a nostalgic chord from the beginning as we are taken down memory lane through the power of a single photograph.
It is the picture of himself and his mother. We see a young Jidenna; a boy hero and his mother going from house to house looking for a place to sleep and ended up in a brothel. The boy-hero having witnessed a pimp bullying a call-girl, struck the hand of a loafer trying to hold his mother against her will the next morning. The mother’s role and her struggle to educate him despite the unfavorable circumstance shouldn’t be ignored. Even as a child, he was aware and against both the misogynistic and masochistic behavior of the rights abusers. The boy hero’s compassion and respect for women is seen in his outstretched hand as he helped the slapped prostitute up. That scene ushered us into the grown child’s gentlemanly party where he danced with vixens and other beautiful people.
It should be noted that the chorus-dance is a gorilla’s chest-beating protest; a sort of warning whenever it’s angered.
2:25 minutes. Elegance, style, merry making, choicest drinks, exotic parties and classic outfits which are redolent of the 60s and 70s brings the party alive. But our boy-hero, now a chief is summoned by an eyewitness to come out and stop the undoing of one of their own: a black man knuckled down by limbs of the law – white establishment.
The video is conscious of the socio-economic and political upheaval of the times. Not only in the US, but around the world; especially the unjust treatment of black males by the police, and therefore very relevant because it answers to the call of Hip Hop cultures. It answers to what Chuck D asserted when he said Hip Hop (Rap) is the media, the TV that back people never had. It calls to witness the prevailing situation of people – Black: Africans or African Americans, and the silenced aspects of institutionalized racism by authorities. It hammers a bold nail on the contradictory interpretation of the law in contemporary times (notably White America).
The theatrics of the video: Jidenna as spectator, a construction worker – representing the working class to whom such could happen to, Jidenna as police and as felon is very strong. It shows our limitations and fault-lines as humans. It tends to be saying whatever injuries we have or suffer today is self-inflicted. These words depict the scene more succinctly: “I live a different set of laws out here/ Know my rights even when I’m wrong out here/ Like a locksmith opened every door out here.’ It reminds one of Chamillonaire’s video “Riding”. That epic moment suggests that social change could also be achieved through action. We have to confront the coward (in the mirror) to do the right thing. It is calling on all discriminated people to lend their voice to the wind of change blowing across countries.
It’s a bildungromanic video that shows the boy-hero growing into adulthood. It portrays the rise of the boy through experiences and how the crucibles of his environment had shaped his becoming a better man who is bold enough to become a brother’s keeper.
The sitting chief in the video is also symbolic. It shows everyone is king/chief and shouldn’t run away from the reality of their existence. No slave. No master. The British said it best: Every English man’s house is his castle. And the Black are not going anywhere. The colourful scene seemed to have resurrected ancestral spirits in flamboyant regalia to protest on behalf of the brother (felon who might be wrongly arrested). It is a similar theme that we hear from Big Sean’s verse in DJ Khaled’s Holy Keys featuring Kendrick Lamar thus: “Father help us, police doing target practice on real bodies/ Mommas in the streets, crying, standing over a still body/ Niggas over stressing, we under investigation.” And Lamar added to the fire: “Law enforcement their forces, tortures us with violent speed” which concludes Jidenna’s bridge in “Chief Don’t Run” when he says the established has always tried tho Wesley Snipe them.
Not prone towards the negative but I was hoping to see Jidenna lounging with the Dalai Lamas and in the Sky Lounge in Dubai. Demonstrated, but we didn’t see him loosening his tie due to the effect of cocktails, except it shouldn’t be taken literately.
“Chief Don’t Run” is a video that is sure to be here for a long time because of its thematic concerns and story-telling prowess. It has strong imagery concerning contemporary issues. I’m sure we will be happy to see it go places and also ushering in the Jidenna era. Long Live The Chief!!!