If there is one thing that pop savant NNAMDÏ specializes in, it’s mixing and matching disparate sounds until they perfectly complement each other. Please Have a Seat—the singer/songwriter’s sixth studio album and his first for Secretly Canadian—maintains his inherent quirkiness while serving as his most cohesive project to date. All in all, NNAMDÏ still embraces being considered indie music’s resident weirdo.
“I just make the stuff that I want to make,” the Sooper Records co-founder explained in a recent interview with Consequence. “It might be different than some radio pop, but there are elements of all of that in there. And the goal is for as many people to hear it and to enjoy it as possible. So, I don;t want to ostracize anybody that might get enjoyment from it.”
The lead singles from Please Have a Seat, “I Don’t Want To Be Famous” and “Anti,” possess the qualities that make them an immediate pleasure to listen to. At just under three minutes long, the former showcases NNAMDÏ’s sleek and exuberant lyrical prowess. The aspirational disposition of the track (“Member back in Edgewood we was eating with the roaches / Now they caught me flying, I ain’t going back to coach”) is reinforced by rhythms and a pulsing cadence that modern emcees would envy.
“Anti,” on the other hand, is a slower and more stirring ballad. Its synth-y soundscapes emphasize its ambient nature; the artist’s surprisingly soulful demeanor gives way to a vulnerability that listeners haven’t heard before. This contrast is what dominates the overall feel of the record, as we see the musician’s vastness.
“Armoire” combines classic hip-hop braggadocio with dreamy, ethereal vocals, and it quickly becomes evident that NNAMDÏ has been passionately perfecting his rapping skills. Twenty-seven seconds into “Dibs,” NNAMDÏ’s hushed chants are spliced in half by gnarly electric guitar chords before returning to sunny melodies.
The best parts on the album are where NNAMDÏ revels in being completely unpredictable. We hear it in the rambunctious percussion on “ANXIOUS EATER,” on the intergalactic introduction of “Dedication,” on the confectionary bluster of “Benched.” The acoustic guitar on “Lifted” is soft and disarming, showing that nothing can deter the multi-instrumentalist from channeling his softer side.
Please Have a Seat is a testament to NNAMDÏ’s unconventional musical vision and how no matter what genre he wanders into—whether it be hip-hop, indie rock, electronica or bubblegum pop—he stays true to who he is. It’s also a wondrous adventure for anyone who is willing to hold on through its twists and turns. Most importantly, it represents the complexity Black artists possess. The kind of freedom NNAMDÏ expresses in his latest work is the kind all Black men should be able to freely experience.
NNAMDÏ’s imagination continues to push boundaries visually and sonically. He is still growing and relishing in unfettered exploration, which can be equal parts thrilling and terrifying. However, that’s all merely part of the journey the shapeshifter has allowed us to embark on with him.
Candace McDuffie is a Senior Writer at The Root. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, MTV, SPIN and Entertainment Weekly. You can follow her on Instagram @candace.mcduffie.
Revisit NNAMDÏ’s 2018 Daytrotter session below.