Sweet, sticky, sultry; Namasenda’s ‘Ambrosia’

On the Stockholm-based musician's latest EP, Namasenda combines Swedish and English in her quest for the “nectar of the gods.”
Madeleine Aitken
Madeleine Aitken
Madeleine recently graduated from Tufts University with degrees in English and film & media studies and lives in Cambridge, MA. She likes to write features and reviews and is most interested in music and movies. Contact: maddieaitken22@gmail.com

In a 2021 interview with office, Naomi Namasenda said she is “pushing to do better and cooler shit every day.” Known mononymously by her last name, Namasenda definitely hit that mark with the release of her latest EP, Ambrosia. Its four songs each bring their own unique strengths, yet they fit together seamlessly, making this feel like a more complete project than Unlimited Ammo, her 2021 album. Despite ringing in only nine minutes and 26 seconds, Namasenda uses that brief air time masterfully, taking us on a journey that feels much longer.

Ambrosia opens with “north star (introlude).” It’s a largely instrumental track that begins with a slow rise before hitting an electronic crescendo and a repetition of “freedom,” the song’s only lyric aside from an early whisper of “nectar of the gods.” The lyrics are clearly not meant to be the highlight, or even the focus, of this track—“nectar of the gods” is so quick that you could almost miss it, and “freedom” is so overshadowed by the loudening beat that you could not even register it. But the idea of the ‘nectar of the gods’ is present in Ambrosia: the whole EP has a sweet, sticky, sultry feel about it.

Oscillating between English and Namasenda’s native Swedish, she combines melancholic lyrics with sparkling synths and bouncy EDM undertones as the EP continues with “maserati.” She starts the song by repeating, “Do you love me? Are you in love with me?” in Swedish, her distorted voice thick with a calculated unsureness. Then, the beat picks up, becoming a more sexy, confident song. Namasenda shifts to English, and daring, titillating lyrics: “In the Maserati / do it how you want / acting like a Barbie” replace her questioning ones. This dichotomy begs the question: does Namasenda allow herself to exude confidence in her English world more so than in her Swedish world? And more importantly, do we all shift ourselves to fit into different scenarios? I think she would say yes.

After this poppy track, she pumps the brakes on “rosa.” Namasenda’s singing is clear and strong, just her voice gently piercing through the shimmery synth in the background. The result is a dreamy, floaty kind of song. Then there’s “deathrow bby,” easily the catchiest track of the EP with a chantable chorus reminiscent of Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, or even Almondmilkhunni. There’s a particularly dancey part in the middle, and this track ends up the most electronic and artificial.

The autotune is strong on Ambrosia, but so is Namasenda’s talent—on this EP, as well as on Unlimited Ammo and a host of singles. Though Stockholm-based record label Year0001 released Ambrosia, Namasenda had previously been with PC Music. When she signed with them in 2019, she was the first Black artist to do so. That trailblazer quality shines through in her music—through her experimentation with beats and her combination of Swedish and English. After my first listen of this EP, I left with one feeling: no one is doing it quite like she is.

Read More