Read Jidenna’s Open Letter About Nigeria
With a massive hit already under his belt, Jidenna is enjoying a considerable amount of publicity. Unfortunately for the "Classic Man," not all of it has been positive; the Wisconsin-born, Nigerian-raised rapper and singer has recently come under fire from some observers and on social media for comments he made about his youth in Africa. During an interview with Vlad TV, he mentioned that he and his family's relatively light complexion made them antsy. “The fact that you have African blood in you is gonna make it hard," he said. "When you’re light-skinned, you’re a heavier target for being kidnapped because you’re seen as more valuable. We were robbed–our family’s been assaulted. We’ve had a lot of issues.” Detractors complained that Jidenna's most high-profile mention of Nigeria painted his homeland in what was believed to be a negative light. Today, he took to his website to clear that up.
"I am, always have been, and always will be proud of my Nigerian heritage," Jidenna writes, pointing out that he takes every opportunity to boast of his country's accomplished citizens. But he goes on to tell a harrowing story that helps to explain his Vlad TV comments: "When I was 5 years old, my family was robbed at gunpoint," he remembers, "my mother was beaten, family members were kidnapped, and I was shot in my foot. As is the case with all kidnapping, targeting those who are perceived to be wealthy is the objective. In this instance, my father [a university professor] was the target because of his prominence in the community." Jidenna explains that his word choice in the initial interview may not have been ideal, but that he loves Nigeria dearly. "We may not agree on everything, but know my heart is your heart, and my experience is part of our collective experience."