Over the years, multi-talented artist Jidenna has rapidly evolved before our eyes — and he says that his evolution is symbolic of his core values and interests as a Nigerian American man.
During an in-depth conversation for AfroTech World with Blavity's Editor-in-Chief Lilly Workneh, the artist delved into several relevant topics including the mission behind his artistry, his vision for the future, and — perhaps most timely — toxic masculinity and the importance of protecting Black women at all costs.
"Men feel powerless, and let me say Black men at large around the planet, feel powerless as we watch other men exploit the world and us with their power," Jidenna said in the interview. "Because we feel powerless because we have an emotional straight jacket called patriarchy where we cant express the shades of a man we then try to use our power against our biggest ally — Black women."
The 35-year-old expounded on those thoughts in an op-ed titled "An Open Letter to Black Men," expressing his concerns about raising a daughter in a society where women are often silenced, overlooked and met with disbelief.
"The world I want to bring a child into is one where Black men’s default response to a Black woman sharing her experience as a survivor is compassion, not disbelief," he wrote.
Despite his efforts to critique society's perspective on modern masculinity, the musician said he's met with opposition from men.
"When I share things like that some men will come at me and sound just like white people when Black people try to explain their plight. They want to remind me that not all Black women are good and do shady s**t," he said in the interview. "And while that is true you've been hurt by a Black woman, just when we share our plight to white people, we are not saying that we are all without flaw."
"What Black women are saying is what Black people are saying to the world: 'This s**t is hard and we need some support from the people who are suppose to be supporting us,'" he continued.
While Jidenna said it's important to protect Black women, he realizes that protection isn't limited to just physical. The "Classic Man" artist explained that protection starts with listening and believing Black women.
"We don't listen enough," he said during the interview.
As recent events have unfolded around the shooting of Megan Thee Stallion, a wider discussion was sparked on protecting and believing women.
Over the summer, the Houston native said she was shot by rapper Tory Lanez. Her profession was immediately met with disbelief by fans and rappers who picked apart her story, as Blavity previously reported.
In his Medium op-ed, Jidenna wrote that he's "deeply troubled as I watch my peers deny the realities of women who have found the fortitude and courage to share their horrific experiences. I admire these women. I believe them."
He continued his discussion of the relationship between the Black man and woman, adding that Black men who tend to criticize his stance are oftentimes neglecting their personal and emotional trauma.
He says that patriarchy, which he described as being an "emotional straight jacket," prohibits Black men from expressing themselves emotionally after experiencing trauma and that some Black men don't view themselves as divine.
"We've been taught to look at ourselves as less than. If we saw ourselves as divine, maybe we would see women in a new light," he said.
As the musician addressed the "modern masculinity crisis," he said he's realigned his focus on the youth in an attempt to reconfigure the mind of young Black men. He added that young men should be taught to listen and believe the girls in their class.
As for what he is doing personally to recreate society's view on modern masculinity, he said he reads, listens and talks to the women in his life. He said he's focused on exploring himself and speaking up for societal matters that resonate with his life goals and tapping into his spiritual side.
Watch a clip of the interview with Jidenna below: