Oct 27, 2022
By Michelle Dalarossa
It would be futile to try and pin down NNAMDÏ’s music to any one, two, or even three genres. Born Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, the Chicago native and multi-hyphenate has spent the last nine years dabbling in a little bit of everything—composing, rapping, writing/producing, even co-owning the label Sooper Records—and his musical output reflects the same zealous propensity for variety. With the release of his fifth studio album, Please Have a Seat, NNAMDÏ delivers the technical complexities and genre-bending idiosyncrasies that he’s come to be known for on what may be his most accessible, but no less ambitious, record yet. Melding together math rock, electronica, heavy metal, and trap, NNAMDï builds a shapeshifting sonic world that is calculated in its architecture but experimental in its musical makeup.
The first half of the 14-track album kicks off with the patient and otherworldly “Ready to Run,” introducing listeners to NNAMDÏ’s proclivity for multilayered vocals and sudden genre switches. It’s the threshold leading into his musical universe, and we cross into it on the following track, “Armoire,” which borrows from the expansiveness of its precursor while fleshing it out with elements of sharp and percussive trap. As the album progresses, NNAMDÏ plays with the very concept and fundamentals of conventional “songs,” often interrupting the flow of each track with abrupt tempo changes and unexpected instrumentation to create musical parentheticals. At its best, this experimentation seamlessly juxtaposes opposing forces: the fluttering cyber feedback of “Dedication” buoys its chunky bass, while “Touchdown” nimbly jumps between buzzing electronica and rap. Standout track “Dibs” perhaps best showcases this balancing act, interjecting the effervescent plucking of guitars with the belligerence of heavy metal.
NNAMDÏ’s strength lies in this fearless creativity and exploration, but as the latter half of the album demonstrates, these same tendencies devolve into winding bouts of capriciousness when they are used in excess. “ANXIOUS EATER,” for example, starts off as something like alternative rap before suddenly plunging into a frenzied cacophony of both math rock riffs and moments of stillness. In a similar vein, “Careful” and even “Grounded” tumble into dissonant melodies and erratic pacing, leading listeners along a fruitless search for steady footing.
There’s no denying that NNAMDÏ is not only a radical innovator, but also a skilled multi-instrumentalist. His ambitious vision, however, is tempered by the maximalism of his soundscape. While his technical dexterity, theoretical expertise, and inventive spirit shine on Please Have a Seat, ultimately, they aren’t enough to stop many of its songs from unraveling. (www.nnamdi.live)
Author rating: 6.5/10
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