Pros clocking in: Jidenna and Future

Future – Future

“Mask Off” boasts the most becoming production since 2015’s “Blood on the Money.” With help from Frank Dukes, Metro Boomin wraps a melancholy flute melody from 1973’s “Prison Song” around a trap beat. Elsewhere on this fun but exhausting seventeen-track Diary of a Mad Mollywife, he waves a Draco, hopes to link up with a dead buddy (“Fed Did a Sweep”), and remembers, over a tinkling piano, a woman who didn’t leave him when was broke. After an uncertain start, the album sticks to his tried-and-true; recording is a job, and just like it’s hard and not to mention undesirable to go to work high or drunk I doubt he parties as much as he claims. It’s just as easy to imagine Nayvadius Wilburn chilling with a glass of prosecco and watching a Manchester by the Sea screener. He’s so professional he released another dozen or so tracks last week. Stay tuned.

Jidenna – The Chief

If the album sleeve teases the memory, think Middle Man, the 1980 album by Boz Scaggs that boasted his last couple pop hits before an eight-year hiatus and well remunerated respite in the Bay Area. Two years before Avalon, Scaggs presented himself as a smoothie with a taste for vulgar pleasures and not above shaming women who violated his ridiculous modes of behavior. This debut by the Wisconsin Rapids native, nominated for a Grammy two years ago for a Janelle Monae collar, sports a few good beats, which, considering his ambition to be an all-things-to-everyone star in the mold of Taylor Swift, Beyonce and early Kanye, matters a lot. Whether the title track depicts a fantasy or records true events (as a young man meeting Bill Clinton, as an older one meeting Obama) matters less than the “Juicy”/”We Made It” bravado and that grinding post-industrial beat. On “Trampoline” he interpolates a Sinatra lyric and an aerobic up-down beat to praise a woman who may or may not strip for a living and who may or may not have “a doctorate in medicine.” As with Boz, I suspect the progressivism is a come-on.

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