In January, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya quietly slipped out what's still one of the most playful and technically impressive songs of 2017. "let gO Of my egO," the first single off the Chicago producer, rapper, and singer's Father/Daughter debut Drool, showcases Ogbonnaya's ear for momentum and detail at a rapid clip. As the album's cover suggests (and as Ogbonnaya's said himself), Drool takes plenty of inspiration from the liquid mechanics of classic rubber hose cartoons, dashing around condensed rhymes and zany synthesizer figures with the dexterity of an animated character uninhibited by the laws of physics. All of Drool unfurls by cartoon rules, touching on some heavy subjects in between all the action, but "let gO Of my egO" is the album's irresistible gem.
Ogbonnaya embellishes the fairly straightforward narrative of a one-night stand gone wrong with puns, references, and double entendres that get so abstract they start to lose their semantic meaning. Where the lyrics don't make sense (even when they're spelled out on signs and banners in the video), the syllables do — as units of propulsion, spurring on the song like another part of the beat. It's hard to section off Ogbonnaya's different skills when he meshes them together so tightly, using vocal snippets like guitar solos or percussion, blurring the line between the voice and its accompaniment. The seamlessness of the track is part of what renders it so intoxicating; it makes you want to listen more deeply to figure out where Ogbonnaya's wordplay ends and his backing tracks begin.
As dense as the song is from the start, it loosens up by the finish, when Ogbonnaya takes a break from pronouncing the chorus's wall of words to nestle yet another hook inside the one he's already got. That one line ("my heart is in your hands!"), sung without reservation or irony, opens a new layer of depth in the track. The fissure of emotional attachment in what was supposed to just be a casual hookup gets its own musical fissure, a break from the clever lines and comic delivery. All of a sudden, the floor opens up and the humor breaks away, leaving Ogbonnaya defenseless against his own feelings. That's his magic — to turn what sounds like just a fun ride into a current of emotional weight.
Thumbnail image via Johnny Fabrizio.