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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Artist to watch: Noname and her latest release should not be overlooked

The artist with “Noname”
Official Noname Facebook Page

Noname’s second album to date, “Room 25,” is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. As a testimony to her artistry, the album challenges anyone who may have questioned her before.

While this artist to watch is not new to the game, she is still one to look out for because of her ability to remain an underdog. Fatimah Warner, otherwise known as Noname, has a strong voice, character and opinion on the current state of politics in America, and uses “Room 25” to get out all that has been swelling inside of her.

The Chicago rapper is not a newcomer when it comes to issues of politics; her debut album, “Telefone,” worked similarly. However, “Room 25” shows the artist’s maturity and growth, both as a rapper and citizen.

The album starts off with “Self,” where jazzy smooth sounds juxtapose the hard-hitting lyrics where Fatimah raps about politics, sex, religion and rap music. She catches the listeners’ attention by rhetorically asking, “Y’all really thought a b—- couldn’t rap huh?” and artfully proceeds to rap circles around us. She is questioning her critics here, but also making it all about herself. This is self-reflection, not her proving that she is a rapper, but instead affirming that she already knows she is.

On the third track, “Prayer Song,” Noname calls into question the United States and its institutions. She ironically names the track “Prayer Song” to point at the fact that though these institutions claim to be moral and were founded with the church in mind, the only thing that is upheld today is capitalism. She says in the song, “Don’t nobody got no holy, everybody got an iPhone.” This lyric demonstrated Noname’s claim that the way in which people historically would subscribe to some kind of worship, they now view capitalism. The hook is even more telling and haunting. Featured artist Adam Ness sings “Apple pie on Sunday morning, obesity and heart disease/Can you hear the freedom bells?” She does not leave any institution out of question here, calling out the irony of a country that swears “freedom,” but lacks health care for its citizens. She also uses the rhetoric again here, begging the listener to consider what she is putting down.

While many of the songs on the album have a political emphasis on them, a lot of the album also tells a story of a young Black woman who fell in love and was left heartbroken. My favorite song on the album is “Montego Bae” which outlines a love that Noname has in Jamaica, which she makes a play on by renaming the city Montego Bay as Montego “Bae.” This song sticks out from the rest for its lightheartedness and its playfulness. The artist also talks about something she had not previously addressed: sex. She raps “I know he eat me like I’m wifey, he know my hotel over pricey/So he gon’ f— me like I’m Oprah, classy b—- only use a coaster.” The sexual imagery here is not only playful, but it is also extremely straightforward and undeniably feminist. She is owning her own sexuality and love through this song.

Lastly, the album pays great homage to Chicago, the rapper’s hometown and muse. She does this in a multitude of ways, but my favorite is by including other Chicago artists on her project. Most notably, “Ace” includes “The Goat Trio,” comprised of herself and Chicago rappers Saba and Smino. “Montego Bae” includes Chicago singer and songwriter Ravyn Lenae, who also opened for Noname’s “Telefone” tour. I think what really makes this homage special is the fact that she acknowledges all the changes and gentrification going on in the city, but is still claiming the city with pride. Noname will without a doubt continue to be an artist to watch for years to come. Her undeniable talent and lyricism will carry her into her future and she has a voice that has an incredible urgency to be heard.

Eden Bekele can be reached at [email protected].

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