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New Jidenna Merch for the '85 to Africa' Tour Drops Today Only at the Okay Shop

Jidenna tells us why he partnered with OkayAfrica to design his official tour T-shirt and what style does to a person's psychology.

When Jidenna asked OkayAfrica to design official merch for the ongoing "85 to Africa" tour, we had to create clothing suitable for the Classic Man himself. The result is a collection reflecting the ambitious mission of his new album—to forge a universal African identity across the diaspora. We reached out to Jidenna, on the road between gigs, to hear about the tour and to find out more about the different pieces in the collection.


"85 TO AFRICA" TOUR T-SHIRT

The Jidenna '85 to Africa tour t-shirt'  front and back in the style of a classic rock shirt.

"I really love the actual tour shirt because it looks like this vintage late nineties wrestler or rapper shirt, which people love, "Jidenna tells us. "I think that that's why that shirt is doing so well. They'll remember the tour every time they see that shirt. So I love that." Find the official "85 to Africa" tour T-Shirt at the Okay Shop

PRETTY & AFRAID CREWNECK SWEATSHIRT

Jidenna stepping out of his dressing room in a stylish blue sweater.

Another of his favorites is the 'Pretty & Afraid' design available as both a white T-shirt and a powder blue crewneck sweatshirt that Jidenna is wearing in the photo above.

"Right now, literally as I'm speaking, I'm wearing what we call the Pretty & Afraid shirt, which has this tatted hand with some little rapper jewelry reaching up holding flowers—some dandelions. That was part of a larger concept we have for Pretty & Afraid, which speaks to black male vulnerability and the ability to affirm the low moments, and stray away from always having bravado or feeling the need to always puff the chest. There's true might in vulnerability and this shirt, I think that it plays with that duality.

CROP TOP WOMEN'S HOODED SWEATSHIRT

Women's crop top hoodie with afrocentric imagery and a photo of Jidenna on it.

Besides the official tour tee shirt and the Pretty & Afraid designs is the crop top hoodie which melds a 90s pan-African vibe—think "Do the Right Thing" and Native Tongues—with Jidenna's contemporary diaspora style, creating something rather unique. Buy the crop top women's hooded sweatshirt at the Okay Shop.

We asked Jidenna what performing his new songs have been like on tour and how audiences have been reacting to the African influences which he put front and center on the album.

"The tour has been fantastic, magnificent, swankadelic, everything that I hoped it would be. There's this Afrobeats medley that we do, where a few dancers—just people from the audience—come up and do their favorite, you know, Zanku-style or whatever. Those are the truly memorable moments. And audiences have loved the African influences in the music. Towards the end of the show, I get a chance to just speak my mind on a few subjects, but mainly subjects that relate to the diaspora unifying with the continent, which is at the essence of the album. So that's my favorite moment.

"85 TO AFRICA" LONG SLEEVE T-SHIRT

Model wears Jidenna's "85 to Africa" longsleeve T-shirt backstage while doing a rap squat.

One of the purest visions of that diaspora/continent unity is the new album cover with its traffic jam of painted mini-busses, scooters and candy-colored drop-tops with Jidenna himself in those signature ankara pants. The "85 to Africa" album is available on limited edition translucent orange vinyl or you can wear it as part of the album cover longsleeve T-shirt. And while the album cover feels like a nod to one of Fela's classic covers, the set design for the tour, Jidenna tells us, definitely is.

"It's inspired," he says, "by a mixture of Fela Anikulapo Kuti's original Shrine in Lagos, the Kalakuta Republic, with a kind of down-home country and Southern style, corrugated zinc farm."

"MAKE AFRICA GREAT AGAIN" SNAPBACK HAT

The Make Africa Great Again snapback hat in black with gold writing in the style of one of Trump's MAGA hats.

The last piece for sale in the shop is the "Make Africa Great Again" hat. It's a positive declaration of identity and a statement against negativity and division. Find the Make Africa Great Again hat at the OkayShop.

"Style speaks before you even have to open your mouth," says Jidenna. "As soon as you walk in a room, what you wear, what you don't wear, how flashy or how not flashy you are. It all exudes something. And I believe that the uniforms that people wear affect their psychology and it affects how they interact with each other.

So when you fold in African styles, patterns, colors, figures, iconic imagery that connects the diaspora and the continent, what you get is a sense of self worth. And when an individual is tied to a larger group, that pride is infectious. It makes people that don't usually wear things related to their African identity more comfortable. It gives them permission to recognize that in themselves. So I believe the merch is a step in forging a universal African identity across the diaspora, across the continent. That's what I see when I see the OkayAfrica merch, with yours truly. All right, bless up. Thank you. Appreciate y'all for real."

The "85 to Africa" tour runs through mid-November. See current tour dates on Jidenna's Instagram page. You can find the merch at a tour stop. But if you can't make the show, the entire "85 to Africa" merch collection is available for purchase at Okay Shop.

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Photo by Abena Boamah.

Photos: Here's What Happened at Daily Paper & Free the Youth's Design Talk for Accra's Young Creatives

Founders of the popular brands discussed all things African streetwear in a conversation facilitated by OkayAfrica and moderator Amarachi Nwosu.

Last week, Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand Daily Paper and Ghanaian streetwear label Free the Youth held a talk for young creatives at the Mhoseenu design studio in Accra, Ghana.

Moderated by Melanin Unscripted creator Amarachi Nwosu and presented in partnership with OkayAfrica, the design-based conversation explored everything from sustainable practices in manufacturing, to the overall evolution of streetwear globally. The founders of Free the Youth, which was been called Ghana's number one streetwear brand, expanded on how they've been able to build their audience, and shared details about their community-based initiatives.

They event, which took place at the Daily Paper Pop-up Store in Accra last Friday, drew a fashionable and creative-minded crowd ready to partake in a design discussion between West Africa and Europe.

Check out some of the action that took place at the Daily Paper x FYT event below, with photos by Abena Boamah.

Find more upcoming OkayAfrica events here.

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Adut Akech poses in winners room after winning the Model of the Year Award during The Fashion Awards 2019 held at Royal Albert Hall on December 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/BFC/Getty Images)

South Sudanese Model Adut Akech Wins Model of the Year at 2019 British Fashion Awards

The 19-year-old model spoke about the need for increased representation in the fashion world during her acceptance speech.

Star model Adut Akech was named 'Model of the Year' at last night's star-studded British Fashion Awards in London, earning her one of the biggest accolades during this year's ceremony.

The 19-year-old, South Sudanese-born model, beat out the likes of Adwoa Aboah, Kaia Gerber and Winnie Harlow to claim the recognition.

During her acceptance speech, Akech, who moved with her family to Australia as a young girl after fleeing South Sudan, touched on the need for better representation of women who look like her in the fashion industry. "It is important for all of us to remember that someone like me winning this award is a rarity," she said.

"This is for the young women and men who found representation and validation in my work. I want them to never be afraid of dreaming big like I once did."

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Still from YouTube.

Yemi Alade Enlists Djimon Hounsou for New Music Video 'Remind You'

The veteran Beninese actor stars in the sultry music for Yemi Alade's latest single.

Yemi Alade shares her latest music video for her single "Remind You," and it stars none other than celebrated Hollywood actor Djimon Hounsou.

"Remind You" is a sultry R&B track from the singer's latest album, 2019's Woman of Steel. The vibrant music video, directed by Ovie Etseyatse, sees the singer gallivanting in an empty mansion in various elegant gowns. Honsou graces the screen throughout the video as well, but the two don't meet until the very end, when things take a funny and unexpected turn.

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Photo courtesy of Afro Nation.

Interview: Afro Nation Festival's Smade On Unifying Africans Across the Continent & Diaspora

As the festival prepares to make its Puerto Rico debut this spring, we sat down with Afro Nation co-founder Adesegun Adeosun aka Smade to talk about how it all started and what the future holds.

Within minutes of speaking with Adesegun Adeosun, it's apparent that Afro Nation is much more than an urban music festival.

The Afro Nation co-founder, better known as Smade, talks passionately about connecting Africans across the globe. In less than a year since its debut edition, Afro Nation has successfully done this and gone on to establish itself as the largest festival celebrating African culture on the continent and in the diaspora.

This year, Afro Nation will touch down in Puerto Rico for the first time over spring break—from the 18th to the 21st of March—on the beach of Balneario de Carolina. Headliners will include Burna Boy, Chronixx, Davido, 2Baba, Naira Marley and many more.

As the festival prepares to make its Puerto Rico debut this spring, we sat down with Smade to talk about Afro Nation, how it all started and what the future holds.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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