Noname has striven to make sure that members of her new book club utilize their library cards or library-connected apps to find their books, or that they buy them from independent bookstores.
noname gypsy tour – NONAME — Room 25
Noname, the rapper presented at the Knitting Factory. When Noname stepped on stage that first night the joy in the room was palpable. Her excitement on stage was infectious, and at times the night felt like a communal celebration for all of us, just for surviving. She set it off with “Self”, the first song from Room 25, and went right into the second song “Blaxploitation” from there.
The next string of tracks, Regal and Montego Bae, follows the overall vibe of the album and double as an ode to self-confidence and playfully reminiscing over sensual memories ignited by a West Indian lover. Ace, featuring St. Louis rapper Smino and fellow Chicago native Saba, is a personal favourite because of the fast-paced, infectious rhyme style that will have various listeners begging the rapper to make this an official single. Part Of Me, featuring Benjamin Earl Turner and Pheolix, gives off a sound that will satisfy D’Angelo and neo-soul lovers. Closing off the 34-minute album, the song no name left me wanting more from the talented writer and musician.
You used the proceeds from your first record to pay for this latest album. I think many people might remember that Chance the Rapper also declined to sign to a record label, choosing to function as an independent artist. Tell me why that’s important to you.
Did this album live up to Telefone? I would answer that question with a resounding yes. While it does not have as many catchy moments, I believe it works better as a complete art piece than Telefone did, and I expect this to be in heavy rotation throughout my music library just like that mixtape. I can’t wait to see where Noname goes next and if she takes another two years to release something new, that will be completely fine by me. I am totally satisfied with this album.
There’s nothing simple about these bars. Throughout the night Noname and her band would swell in volume and then fall back, leaving the mostly young, all-ages audience to finish her lines, and they weren’t missing a single word. They did just about every song from both Telefone and Room 25.
Two years since the debut of her critically acclaimed mixtape Telefone, 26-year-old Chicago rapper Fatimah Warner (a.k.a. Noname) wears her heart on her sleeve in Room 25. Fully financed by herself, the album is a combination of distinct, symphonious sounds that complement the rapper’s melodic discography. While the rapper was known for her slam poetry roots as a teen in the Bronzeville neighbourhood of Chicago’s South Side, she gained notoriety after appearing on Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap in 2013. After delivering a solid project with Telefone in 2016, Noname proves why she’s worthy of all the press and praise with the arrival of Room 25.
Noname’s voice and fervent (and often explicit) lyricism stand on its own in a climate where redundancy often floods the rap airwaves. Despite the anonymity behind her stage name, the emcee reveals parts of herself in Room 25 that makes the stay worthwhile.
Doses of social commentary make for some of the album’s most powerful moments. Blaxploitation” drips in 70s flair, weaving together a montage of audio from various blaxploitation films, including 1975 classic Dolemite. One man says, The revolution was never meant to be easy.” Another says, Freedom is everybody’s business.” It deviates from the sing-a-long nature of her older songs, with a fast and exaggerated flow. When she raps, Eating Chick-Fil-A in the shadows, that taste just like hypocrite,” she pronounces the long I” in hypocrite.” Using references ranging from minstrel shows to Hillary Clinton, Noname is taking a subgenre of film that was used to commodify the black experience and remaking it in her image, an apt choice of subject matter following the success of films like Sorry to Bother You and BlacKkKlansman this year.
Prayer Song continues with the themes of America, freedom and resistance. While exploring police brutality and corruption, she touches on how she fits into the narrative and highlights her move from Chicago to Los Angeles, a re-occurring subject on the album – contrasting the rugged yet comforting place she calls home to the superficial space that is L.A. Moving forward, Window explores remnants of self-discovery and vulnerability, which are also beautifully illustrated on Don’t Forget About Me (“But if I have to go, I pray my soul is still eternal. And my momma don’t forget about me”) and With You. Intertwining the art of her infamous cadence, the rapper reflects on change and the fear of being forgotten.
A nod to one Brooklyn and one Chicago MC, both noted for their heavy social content, and in Common’s case, especially at that time, a deep introspection. The documentary for Jay-Z’s Black Album also featured a scene where Jay throws his hands up, frustrated with rappers who were, in his words “scared to be themselves”. The following year, Kanye West (another Chicagoan) exploded onto the mainstream with his 2004 debut College Dropout, and with all of his contradictions, an entire generation of young artists unafraid to be themselves followed.
The album begins with a soulful track titled Self, which perfectly encapsulates her witty rhymes and flavourful prose without flaw. Reminiscent of Sunday mornings and worship, Noname’s lyrics are her own testimony. Blaxploitation follows the lead song, sampling clips from the vintage era that dominated in the 1970s. The rapper thoughtfully combs through a plethora of black stereotypes and the effects it has on her psyche (My people started running a long time ago. And they are still fighting,” ) making the feature one of Room 25′s standout tracks.
Produced by fellow Chicago-native Phoelix, Song 32” opens with whistling backed by jazzy, percussion-saturated instrumentals. The whistling stops abruptly, and Noname enters the song with a fast-paced verse. She swiftly shifts from commenting on staggering bills to inordinate wealth, dropping metaphors and allusion so quickly that it’s hard to catch the full effect on the first listen. This fast delivery is to wonderful stylistic effect: Noname doles out searing critiques of American greed and interventionism, and she doesn’t care if the subject of her critique is fast enough to keep up.
Noname grew up in Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on the southside of Chicago that famously attracted accomplished black artists and intellectuals of all types. Noname first discovered her love for words while taking a creative writing class as a sophmore in highschool.
If there was any expectation that she’d follow her collaborator Chance The Rapper into the pop world, it’s put to rest on Room 25. The album’s biggest difference from its predecessor isn’t its sound, but how personal it is. If Telefone was the story of a young Chicago everywoman (who happened to have supernatural rapping skills), Room 25 is about Noname, and Noname alone.
With a short but expansive discography, it’s clear that Noname is still growing, experimenting and learning. She’s not perfect and she never intended to be. However, even as she continues to develop as an artist and an individual, her work serves to embolden a larger community of female artists that have ever felt unsure of their place in the hip-hop industry.
I also think that people’s perspectives about women have changed, and people are interested in women’s opinions about things, and the type of content and ideas that come from women. So, I’m really excited to see what the future has for these artists and for these new artists coming up, too.
Room 25 is the follow-up to Noname’s 2016 debut Telephone , which was one of the best rap records of that year. Somehow, Room 25 manages to top it. Read our full album review here , and check out our track review for the song Don’t Forget About Me” here Find Noname’s tour dates in her tweet below.
Griselda Records owned New Music Friday. Along with dropping Dr. Bird’s”—the first single off Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine’s forthcoming joint album, What Would Chine Do, Benny delivered a collaborative EP with Smoke DZA. Did I mention the six track offering is produced by the one and only Pete Rock? Though every track on Statue of Limitations is fire, but 7:30” might be the highlight, as Westside Gunn shows up and swipes the song out from under his peers with a scene-stealing verse.
On New Year’s Day 2019, Chicago rapper Noname dropped the single Song 31,” ft. Phoelix. It was her first release since her well-received debut album Room 25” in September. Just a few months later and with virtually no promotion, Noname released Song 32.” On Song 32,” Noname switches topic breathlessly, weaving obscure references throughout her lines so quickly that if you don’t listen close enough you just might miss them. The single is yet another testament to Noname’s unique ability to combine clever lyrics, complex subjects, and jazz-inspired instrumentals to transport the listener into a poetic and immersive soundscape.
NONAME: (Rapping) Penny proud, penny petty, pissing off Betty the Boop, only date expletive that hoop, traded my life for cartoon dance, monkey, dance. Cathedral gonna pay me good tonight, eating Chick-fil-A in the shadows – that taste like hypocrite. Yummy, tasty. Yummy, tasty. Waffle fry my empathy, expletive just really lazy. Maybe I’m a hypocrite. Maybe I’m hypochondriac. I’m struggling to simmer down. Maybe I’m an insomni-black (ph), bad sleep triggered by bad government. Write a think piece in the rap song, the new age covenant. If you really think I’m cooking crack, pass me the oven mitts, captain watch a lil’ expletive go crunch and wonder how everything happen.
From there, Noname moved quickly into Blaxploitation” before breaking into a medley of songs from Telefone.” The aesthetic of a Noname song is delicate, with jazzy, light and usually upbeat instrumentals, paired with the rapper’s soft, deliberate and complex lyrics. The subject matter ranges from her personal struggles and the violence she saw growing up in Chicago, but also shows interpersonal flaws, insecurities and her unique experience as a black woman.
Noname, Saba, and Smino have collaborated several times before. The three joined forces on Noname’s 2016 track “Shadow Man,” and her 2018 track “Ace.” During a March interview with Billboard , Smino spoke about his relationship with the other two artists and touched on the possibility of forming a group.
With a gift for agile word-play, and a handle on cadence that makes her delivery feel like a smooth pebble skimming magically across water, Noname has – ironically – built her name on a subtle, jazz-flecked craft that blends intense joy with a glum sort of melancholy. It’s the sort of subtlety that requires time, and space. In typical low-key style, Noname celebrated her post-‘Telefone’ ascension with a single London show (perhaps the sweatiest Electrowerkz that Angel Islington has ever seen). Over the following two years, her dedicated following has only grown, and she returned to London to fill out KOKO last month. ‘Room 25′ – a tricksy, often hilarious account of her new-found fame and the realities of being a broke independent artist with rent to pay – only raises her star further.
A lot of the times, I don’t really know. I kind of just get inspired by the production. So Phoelix had most of the instruments laid down for the track but the bassline was just so funky that I kind of envisioned like what would Penny Proud be if it were like a political cartoon, you know? Like, what would that look like. I guess I tried to be that character on the song. So, a lot of it is supposed to be visual. Like a lot of the writing is supposed to be purposefully visual, kind of cartoony.
Noname, Saba, and Smino have officially joined forces as Ghetto Sage. Following their previous collaborations on Noname’s 2016 debut Telefone (Shadow Man”) and her 2018 album Room 25 (Ace”), the latter of which they performed on Jimmy Fallon earlier this year, the Midwestern trio delivers a strong first outing with Haagen Dazs.” Highlighted by the group’s electric chemistry and a scene-stealing verse from Noname, the track is sets the stage for an exciting full-length project can’t come soon enough.
Noname grew up in Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on the south side of Chicago that famously attracted accomplished black artists and intellectuals of all types. Noname first discovered her love for words while taking a creative writing class as a sophomore in high school. She became enamored with poetry and spoken word- pouring over Def Poetry Jam clips on YouTube and attending open mics around the city.
Thanks in large part to Room 25, Noname’s sense of aloof anonymity has slowly melted away to reveal conscious rap star power. But she’ll be the first to tell you that doesn’t mean she’s got it all figured out.
At the end of the night we watched Noname participate in the whole tradition of waiting for an encore before doing the night’s closing songs, and as she stepped back on stage she made fun of the tradition as a whole. It sounds simple, but I’m so thankful to see some traditions get broken. There have been so many sacrifices I’ve watched artists make for the sake of the craft. To see an artist celebrated for pushing her art first, and for pushing the limits of an art form without it being a sacrifice is just so refreshing. How far we’ve come from “skills don’t sell.” She wore an SWV-inspired “Sisters With Invoices” shirt, and I felt Noname’s joy as my own.
With its tales of death and unplanned pregnancies, Telefone was reflective of the unpredictability of living in an impoverished sector of a big city: On one hand, this is home; on the other, scarcity is your only constant. There’s a lack of resources, a lack of money, and the only thing that feels abundant is the trauma associated with civilian PTSD Still, with its undertones of blues and jazz, Telefone felt like the antithesis to Chicago’s contentious drill scene, a window into what life was like beyond Chicago’s warring nickname. When I initially created it, I wanted it to feel like a conversation with someone who you have a crush on for the first time,” she said in a 2016 interview with The FADER The mixtape shares the name of the childhood game Telephone and Noname’s withdrawn delivery ensures that there’s an amount of distance between her and her listeners, and the message is somewhat distorted by the time it gets to the last participant.
NONAME: It’s been a great year for female rappers. It’s been crazy. Ghetto Sage brings three frequent collaborators together under one banner. The Chicago-based artists have often linked up for tracks over the course of their respective careers.
Music guest Noname performs “Ace” with Smino and Saba for the Tonight Show audience. The Room 25” rapper said she also plans to record a podcast at the end of every month to talk about the readings. Noted for its sharp commentary on race, identity, sex and politics, Noname’s album, Room 25, was one of the most critically-acclaimed records of last year.
Soon after announcing the formation of Ghetto Sage, Noname , Smino and Saba have dropped their first single Häagen Dazs.” Listen to the track below. They have shared their first track, ‘Häagen Dazs’, which features the three artists going in over a suitably cold beat – listen below.
In 2016, Noname moved to L.A., where she’d recorded Telefone, and didn’t make much new music at first. Then an interesting thing happened: People just kept listening to Telefone. The Chicago rapper has always been an exhaustive storyteller—brimming with narrative-driven stanzas that life in Chicago has written for her—but now the story feels like it’s completely hers.
NONAME: No, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it a lot – the Grammys and just the system of judging art and critiquing music. Some part of me still craves it, like, just because it’s what we’ve taught ourselves is validation. But I think I’m OK. I think I just am wanting to make better content and to just keep growing artistically.
From beginning to end, Room 25 is a testimony to the power of telling your story and the hope that can be found in doing so without apology. Like hearing the chorus of an old spiritual or having a long conversation with a close friend, each song is intimate in a restorative way. An unquestionable balm for uncertain times like these, this album announces Noname’s lyrical coming-of-age.
Telefone was an instant, career-defining hit, and Noname took years to follow it up. Room 25, which comes out today, is an album that deals directly with her last album’s success. More than that, though, it’s a step forward from a precocious debut, an improvement on the formula, and a deepening of what made that album successful.
Noname’s debut album, Room 25, released on Sep. 14, 2018, made it clear that her success was no fluke. Despite only taking a month to record, Room 25 feels almost perfect. With a casual, stream-of-consciousness delivery, Noname showcases her personal and musical growth since the release of Telefone two years before. The life of fame has made her more travelled, more financially secure and more grown-up. All of these changes helped to make Room 25 what it is: a universally-acclaimed project by a young rapper from Chicago.