Gallery: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya challenges traditional hip-hop at High Noon Saloon

By Henry Michaels, Staff Writer

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Photo by: Henry Michaels

Thursday night the High Noon Saloon brought together three of Chicago’s most exciting and unique young talents, all of whom challenge what it means to be labeled a hip-hop artist.

Son!, a Madison native, kicked off the show with an energetic and passionate performance that pushed old friends and new fans alike to move on the dance floor. His rapping, singing, dancing and keyboard skills all stirred a feeling of raw emotion that permeated the venue.

Sen Morimoto took the stage next. Coming off his 2018 release, Cannonball!, which he wrote, arranged and produced himself, Morimoto has made waves in Chicago’s music scene with his fusion of jazz, hip-hop and R&B.  Morimoto resembled a one-man-band as he transitioned from saxophone to synth to frontman with ease. His voice glided over virtuoso fills by his incredible drummer, who gave Morimoto space to rap a couplet or serenade the crowd with a slower ballad.

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya closed the show with a bang. Ogbonnaya is one of the most intriguing and musically diverse artists coming out of Chicago. As a multi-instrumentalist, Ogbonnaya seamlessly merges jazz, gospel, math rock and traditional Nigerian music together into a rich and eclectic sonic smoothie. His most recent release, Drool, united his manifold of musical impulses. While emanating a level of maturity and self-reflection, the album itself is undeniably fun and energetic.

As soon as Ogbonnaya took the stage you could feel that childlike energy bouncing from wall to wall. With guitar in hand, Ogbonnaya and his backing band proceeded to shred their way through the set. The spastic energy of the show was contagious. At one point Ogbonnaya leaped off the stage, weaving his way through the crowd for a lap around the bar before returning to join his band for a five-minute jam. While the majority of Ogbonnaya’s set catered to all of the math rock fans in the audience, he ended with the bubbly “let gO Of my egO”, a crowd favorite. Whether you knew who he was before the set or not, it was impossible to leave without a smile. I only hope I can channel some of Ogbonnaya’s energy to push me through this last set of midterms.



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