Jidenna’s overdue debut The Chief was released on 17th January, 2017 and a week after the album’s release, the numbers are in and they do not look pretty at all.
The Chief opened at #14 on the Billboard 200 with a Sales Plus Streaming figure of 14,347 but its pure sales figure (8,655) sees the Epic Records artist sit at #24 on the sales-only chart. The figure is disappointing for a major label debut but it is also to be expected – without a single in heavy rotation leading up to the project’s release, if The Chief had sold more copies than this, then it would been a minor miracle.
This immediately calls the timing of the album’s release into question. Jidenna’s breakout single “Classic man” was omnipresent in 2015 and reached double platinum status in terms of sales. The song catapulted the previously unknown artist to stardom and opened America up to his classy style and eccentric music. Jidenna has always acknowledged what the record did for his career, on “Chief Don’t Run”, for instance, he rapped:
Look what we did with one song out here
Like a locksmith, opened every door out here
However, that early momentum was squandered. Rather than following up “Classic man” with a strong solo single or even a solo project from Jidenna, Wondaland Records and Epic continued with their original plan to include the song on The Eephus, the debut EP from Janelle Monae’s collective that includes Jidenna, his frequent collaborator Roman GianArthur and the singing duos Deep Cotton and St. Beauty.
Thus, The Chief was released 2 years after Jidenna had the biggest song of his career so far. Had it been pushed forward, Jidenna might have had a better chance to have a high-charting debut album. Especially because, right now, the hype around Jidenna’s brilliant debut project is being drowned out by Future’s two album sandwich and hip-hop veterans Remy Ma and Fat Joe’s new project Plato O Plomo.