- NNAMDÏ, Please Have a Seat
(Secretly Canadian, CD, vinyl, digital)
Listening to Please Have a Seat, the latest LP from Chicago's NNAMDÏ, is akin to watching a mad scientist work. It's easy to picture the artist born as Nnamdi Ogbannaya, a savant of more genres than most people can actually name, clad in a lab coat and enshrouded in vapor as he creates his truly genre-defying music.
Just take "Dibs," the LP's third track, for example. NNAMDÏ's melody is dreamy until about 30 seconds in, when a sudden math-rock explosion erupts, full of distorted guitars and grinding drums. When the brief shot of aggression dissipates back into the verse, he flexes and sprinkles traces of the interlude throughout the following verses. It's one of the songwriter's only easily identifiable traits: NNAMDÏ is a builder, a dreaming architect with one foot in the mud and the other in astral space.
The Sooper Records cofounder excels at linking together seemingly incompatible sounds and weaving them into a tapestry of pure auteurism. NNAMDÏ writes, produces and performs every sound on his records, many of which veer away from each other like estranged relatives. His genre-fusing 2020 LP Brat hit so hard that it earned him Chicagoan of the Year from the Chicago Tribune. That same year, he also released punk EP Black Plight and Krazy Karl, a jazz tribute to "Looney Tunes" composer Carl Stalling.
After 2021's electronic EP Are You Happy, NNAMDÏ finally took a break after years of nonstop releases. He needed a reset, and as he put it in a press release for Please Have a Seat, he needed to live in the moment again.
"I realized I never take time to just sit and take in where I'm at," the multi-instrumentalist wrote in a press release. "I wanted to be present."
The result is a record brimming with virtuoso flows; unpredictable, even jarring arrangements; and a shocking sense of pop savvy. As free and unfettered as Please Have a Seat is, it also marks NNAMDÏ's most accessible and radio-friendly work to date. The record's first single from it, "I Don't Wanna Be Famous," perhaps anticipating a larger audience, serves as something of a thesis.
"I don't really wanna be famous," he raps. "I just wanna be on your playlists / Used to say that I was too weird and shit / Now they wanna take me serious."
Other tunes, such as "Anti," show off NNAMDÏ's soulful, ambient side. Here he croons over a slow-jam beat, his voice drenched in reverb. "Anxious Eater" defies categorization, moving between auto-tuned choral work and a TV on the Radio-like indie-rock frenzy. The way he offsets classic hip-hop chest thumping with dizzying, ethereal vocals in "Armoire" creates a beautiful dissonance.
Please Have a Seat is one of the most sonically eclectic records of the year while still chock-full of radio bangers.
Please Have a Seat is streaming on all platforms now. NNAMDÏ swings through Vermont on Thursday, October 27, for a show at the Dibden Center for the Arts at Northern Vermont University in Johnson. Visit tickets.catamountarts.org for tickets.