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Donae’o’s “Swaggy”

Arguably the most eroticized component of the song (which is saying a lot, all things considered), the groove that drives home the chorus in Donae’o’s “Swaggy” is devastatingly potent, to put it quite mildly indeed. Even if it weren’t fashioned with heady melodies as colorful as they are evocative in spirit, the beats in this track would give us as big a picture as any of Donae’o’s lyrics can and do. O.G. Relli stops by to help out with the mic duties in “Swaggy,” but for as sterling a contribution as he makes to the music, it’s the main man himself who can be credited with making this song into the true banger it is at loud volumes.

“Swaggy” sports a wonderful juxtaposition of bassline tension and vocal catharsis, and I think this lends a progressive quality that was sorely missing from Donae’o’s past work. I’m not saying that I didn’t care for his previous singles, but only that there’s something awakened in him here that I definitely cannot get enough of now that I’ve been exposed to it for the first time. The lyrics are blushing with tone because of his stylized execution, and by pairing them up with a tense rigidity from the bass parts, we get as much of a provocative pulse from the music as we do the verses. O.G. Relli is hitting the right buttons on his end of the booth for sure, but as for Donae’o himself, he’s performing with more multidimensionality than I had previously thought possible.  

There’s not a lot of strength in the percussive push toward the end of the song relative to what the lead vocal is working with, but I wouldn’t change a thing about the levels in this track. The bassline more than compensates for the less than assaultive finish from the drums, and in stringing together these jagged parts as we conclude “Swaggy,” Donae’o makes it easier for us to appreciate his vocal’s striving n’ driving nature. Ironically, one of the most organic melodies of the year thus far comes in a tempo-powered hip-hop song, but I suppose that critics and fans should both be expecting the unexpected when it comes to anything regarding these talented players/producers.

One-part hip-hop fantasy as seen through a rather minimalistic lens, another part personality-driven pop rap that doesn’t need a big intro or a skit to set the tone for its narrative, “Swaggy” is a song listeners can’t go wrong with in 2023. Whether you’ve been following him since the beginning or are finding out about his work for the first time this summer, it has never been a better time to get into the music of Donae’o, who shines like the superstar he always will be here. “Swaggy” has a thrust that will get its beat stuck in your head for days on end, but it doesn’t feel like a stab at commercial acceptance on the part of its two principal creators. This is art for the sake of expression, and these days, that’s something we should be celebrating with gusto.

Mindy McCall  



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