Haters gonna hate. But I’m not hating. I repeat, I am not hating on Wondaland Records’ newly released single “Classic Man” by Jidenna featuring Roman GianArthur. I think Janelle Monáe appears to be a fearless writer and performer who clearly has a vision for the future of music and is showcasing talented artists and musicians through her record label Wondaland Records, a joint venture with Epic Records.
But after watching the music video for Wondaland’s premiere single a few times, I was both excited to see the positive imagery of men and boys of color and disappointed to see some of the same messages surrounding women that are so pervasive in lots of mainstream hip-hop and R&B songs.
Within the first few seconds of “Classic Man” Jidenna sings, “Oh me, oh me, oh my, I know a lot of women want to be in my life. Oh me, oh me, oh my, why can’t every woman end up being my wife?” Is a “classic man” really an egotistical womanizer?
We’ve heard that before. There are a long list of songs where young men brag about the number of women they have buzzing around them like bees around a hive. Thankfully, and perhaps uniquely, Jidenna doesn’t refer to women pejoratively in his song. But the all too common theme of holding down more than one woman as an impressive and commendable feat is present, the “classic man” just happens to do it while simultaneously being a well groomed community leader.
Yes, men dressed in tailored suits, ties, polished shoes and fedoras are always welcome. Yes, women in gowns and their Sunday best is a refreshing sight. Yes, young boys being rescued from police brutality, mentored and taught chess, science, engineering and martial arts is inspiring. But I’m stuck on the implication that the term “classic man,” while clothed in beautiful fabric, is somehow synonymous with juggling multiple women.
Other imagery in the video allude to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (note “Pressure is privilege” written on a black board in the video) others seem to allude to Malcolm X; imagery that would suggest that a “classic man” is one who is pro-resistance, or in the case of X violent resistance, and pro-patriarchy.
Jidenna told The FADER that the song “is intended to celebrate men who are sharp in mind, body, and style.”
To be fair, I’ve searched for the lyrics to the song a few times and have come up empty. I’m still trying to make the connection between other lyrics and what I can make out to be, “even if she goes away, I’m a classic man.”
Am I reaching? In my midnight stupor, am I fishing for something that isn’t there? Hating on a movement that needs more supporters than critics?