Singer/rapper Jidenna, Chicago poet and screenwriter Fatimah Asghar and VAM Studio co-founder Vincent Martell behind the scenes at the shoot for the "Sufi Woman" music video | Photo by Greg Stephen Reigh

While it’s trendy to practice astrology and read tarot cards, conversations about spirituality usually center whiteness and leave out Black and brown women entirely. Jidenna’s latest song, “Sufi Woman” changes that.

The single is the Nigerian-American singer’s tribute to Muslim women of color, and Chicago-based poet and screenwriter Fatimah Asghar brought the song to life in a hypnotizing music video for the song, which dropped on Tuesday. 

Asghar directed “Sufi Woman” while her buddies over at VAM Studio, a Chicago production house centuring the perspectives of queer-identifying people and folks of color, produced the music video alongside Hidden Pool Productions.

“I don’t hear many popular English songs that clearly name their love for Islam or Muslim women but whenever I do, I get really excited because it strikes a particular chord in me,” Asghar told The TRiiBE via email.

“To me, the song ‘Sufi Woman’ is really an ode to the mystical women and femmes of color we all have in our lives that make magic out of the everyday, that teach us to vibrate on a higher frequency,” Asghar continued.

One of those women in Asghar’s life is Jamila Woods, her best friend and Chicago musician, poet and Young Chicago Authors teaching artist. Woods makes a cameo appearance in the “Sufi Woman” music video.

“My whole life is made up of these women and femmes, and I feel really honored to know and love and witness them,” Asghar said. “And so what I wanted to do was really pay homage to those women and femmes.”

Asghar first dipped her toes into the world of directing on “Eartha,” a music video for the Eartha Kitt-inspired track from Woods’s second album, Legacy! Legacy!. “Sufi Woman” is her second time in the director’s chair.

In the video, Muslim writer Fariha Róisín reads tarot, something she practices in her everyday life. Throughout the video, she acts as a spiritual facilitator to Jidenna, guiding him to the various women and femmes in his life. Dina Nur Satti is Sufi, and embodies the spiritual practices in her lifestyle ceramics brand, Nur Ceramics. In the video, she made the caftan and Sibha she’s wearing and uses trance dancing as part of her spiritual practice. 

“In making this video, I really wanted to make sure that we weren’t having people ‘play at’ spirituality or religion, but instead we were having people bring their own authentic selves and spiritual practices to set,” Asghar said. “It didn’t sit well with me to cast actresses or models and have them pretend to be something that wasn’t in accordance with who they were spiritually, or wear makeup or outfits that felt appropriative to them.”

Though Jidenna’s song references sufism in its title, Asghar said the song isn’t solely about the mystical Islamic belief or any of the other indigenous spiritual traditions mentioned in the song’s lyrics, including Brujería.

“He’s paying homage and expressing his love to the women he knows who are spiritually connected to these things,” Asghar said about Jidenna’s “Sufi Woman.”

The track is one of two singles from Jidenna’s latest album, 85 to Africa. On Wednesday, a day after the release of the “Sufi Woman” music video, Jidenna blessed Chicago with a listening party at The Promontory in Hyde Park to celebrate his second studio album, which was released on August 23.

The line outside of The Promontory in Hyde Park before Jidenna's listening party on Wednesday | Photo by Lee Edwards

With the backdrop of the sun fading behind the horizon, dozens of Jidenna’s fans waited in a line outside The Promontory that stretched down the block and around the corner. Earlier that day, the singer posted on Twitter that he would be in Chicago to host the listening party. When he wrote that doors open at 7 PM, his fans made sure to be there by 6:30 PM.

The line consisted mostly of Black Chicagoans, particularly women. The wide range in hues of skin, personal style and other physical characteristics illustrated Jidenna’s prowess as an artist. Since his 2015 hit, “Classic Man,” Jidenna has garnered the mass appeal of Black folks across the diaspora. In 2016, he made his sizzling acting debut on Issa Rae’s hit HBO show, Insecure, which only contributed to his rise in fame and sex appeal.

While waiting in line for the rest of her party to arrive, Chicago resident Vanity May told The TRiiBE that she heard about Jidenna’s listening party through a friend. Surprised by the turnout, she cited “Bambi” and “Classic Man” as her favorite Jidenna songs. 

Although May hadn’t yet heard his newest album, she was eager to hear Jidenna’s latest project.

Meanwhile, Walter Fisher was one of the few Black men in the listening party line. He learned about the event on Twitter earlier in the work day. He’d previously saw Jidenna perform in Chicago several years ago. 

He said his favorite Jidenna songs are “Tribe,” another single from 85 to Africa, ‘Chief Don’t Run” and “2 Points.” 

“It was just a freestyle of him just being hard, being confident and just saying, like, ‘This is me. This is where I stand,’” Fisher said about the “2 Points” track.

Fisher’s been following Jidenna’s career for a while now. He appreciates Jidenna’s message of defining what it means to be an Afro-futuristic Black man in today’s world.

“I think he really represents how a Black man should carry himself in the world,” Fisher added.

Shortly after 8:20 PM, Jidenna took his place next to the DJ booth, where he explained the meaning behind some of the tracks from 85 to Africa before singing along to each song, including “Sufi Woman,” as the DJ spun them.