SXSW Interviews: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

Written by on March 22, 2018

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya by Waylon O’Day

If you have never heard of Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, you’re not alone, but you’ve definitely been left in the dark. The Chicago-bred multi-instrumentalist is one of the most exciting budding artists that I have heard in years, and that’s saying something if you understand how hard it is for new music to catch my ear. “let gO Of my egO” is one of the smartest contributions to the hip-hop genre that I have heard since BROCKHAMPTON first started heating up the blogosphere, with it’s diverse production and listen-with-your-dictionary-in-hand wordplay (“Rigor mortis after coitus, you know they don’t wanna let go”), the song blew me away from first lisen. The production is zany, colorful, and eclectic, borrowing elements of punk, funk, soul, and obviously hip-hop. However, I would not call Nnamdi a MC or a rapper, he is an artist in the purest since of the word. Early in the madness that was South by South West, I had the chance to sit down with the enigmatic artist and pick his brain a bit.

Standing in front of the convention center, I first met Nnamdi, he was walking around with a backpack with a giant letter “N” tied to the handle, smiling from ear to ear. Once we found a quiet spot to sit, Ogbonnaya set down his bag, and went to the balcony observing the limited skyline that was visible from the convention center balcony. A fan of stand-up comedy, Nnamdi cited comics such as John Mulaney and Dave Chappelle as some of his favorites. Naturally, I had to ask about his favorite Chappelle Show sketch, which was promptly answered with the “Real World Sketch,” which I think fans of Chappelle will agree is a classic. As the conversation turned, I was curious as to what shows Ogbonnaya watched. Black Mirror was one of the first mentioned, also mentioning that “Crocodile,” from the latest season of the Netflix show was a favorite. “Meeseeks and Destroy,” from the first season of the Adult Swim instant classic, Rick and Morty, is Nnamdi’s favorite episode of that show as well. Eventually, the conversation steered back towards the realm of music.

When asked whether or not he made music for himself or for people to listen to, he explained that he did it mostly for himself, but to be able to have people enjoy it, made that emotional catharsis that is his music, that much better. Nnamdi wanted people to know about him was that he loves people, and wants them to enjoy his music, but if they don’t so be it. He also stressed that his music will never be the same, he will always progress and make what he wants to make, so don’t expect the sound from his first solo project, DROOL, to continue on too long, unless that is the artistic space that Ogbonnaya finds himself in when sitting down to make new music.

Unfortunately, I had lost most of the audio from our interview, so I can’t go in-depth on what we talked about (besides TV shows and my final questions) without feeling as though I’m putting words in Nnamdi’s mouth. What I can do is tell you what I learned about him as a person. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a genuine person, always smiling and laughing, true to himself and his craft. He strikes me as someone that truly loves music and sharing it with those who have that same sort of love, especially if it’s for his own art. He his hardworking and devoted; I believe he said he was doing a total of fourteen shows throughout the week, which is just insanity in my opinion and takes someone with a lot of passion to actually do. I don’t want to go as far and say you need to listen to him because he’s a good person, even though he is one of the most delightful people I met throughout the week. But I will say, his music is fresh, exciting, and coming from an entirely new sonic-palette that is new to not only my ears, but everyone who I show his music to (which, by the way, I cannot stop doing since first hearing DROOL). If saying he’s a good guy and a genuine person makes you more inclined to listen to him, so even better. However, at the end of the day, after listening to his music, we will all be able to agree that Nnamdi’s music is undeniably spectacular.

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