By Nadir Roberts
Arts & Entertainment Editor
If you haven’t explored Soundcloud, Audiomack or even YouTube to search for new artists, then you’re doing something wrong. If you haven’t heard Noname’s music yet –– and not just her many features –– then you’re also doing something wrong. The 26-year-old rapper and poet released her second studio album, “Room 25,” on streaming services on Sept. 14.
The whole album was produced by Phoelix, an American multi-instrumentalist and vocalist based in Chicago. He has worked with the likes of Saba, Smino and his own projects. He provides the chorus on the album’s the ninth track, “Part of Me.”
In her hometown neighborhood of Bronzeville in Chicago, Noname shares the same musical prowess as other artists gaining a bigger following like Saba, Mick Jenkins, J.I.D and more.
The 11-song tracklist runs for 35 minutes (but you’ll want to have it on repeat) and expresses her many thoughts on sex, politics and her personal life.
After her debut album, “Telefone,” which was shared with fans in July of 2016, Noname continued to blaze any feature she was on. She worked alongside artists such as Jeremih, Smino and her long-time friend Chance The Rapper. Chance and Noname first collaborated back in 2013 on Chance’s song “Lost” from his Acid Rap project. She also worked with Mick Jenkins that same year on his “Trees & Truths” mixtape in the song “The Truth.”
The monotone yet still soulful first track off the album is “Self” in which Noname touches on sex, religion and politics in just two verses. This track is somewhat of a subtle flex of her talent even though many people have still yet to discover the rapper. She acknowledges her underrated status as a female rapper a couple times in the song, rapping “And yall still thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh.”
Coming fresh off the two-year hiatus from her first studio album, Noname has shifted gears in her musical approach and her friends have been the influence. After her move from Chicago to Los Angeles, she developed a close-knit group of comedic friends that do stand-up on the West Coast. Fellow artists, Saba and Smino, who have been seen a lot with Noname recently, collaborate and completely set the studio ablaze on the eighth track, “Ace.”
On her darker moments in the album, she gets deep and let listeners feel the hurt in her heart. On the fifth song in the album, titled “Don’t Forget About Me,” she opens up and gets down to the nitty gritty with a flow so distinct and simple.
“Your momma at the table crying, all her hair gone / Feeling fishy finding Chemo, smoking seaweed for calm,” Noname raps.
Noname has a flow about her that gives her music an overall chill vibe and smooth sound. She describes her music as “lullaby rap,” and it’s a pretty accurate description. Her soft whispery voice and wordplay comes like second nature to her and is widely unprecedented. The music she makes and this album specifically make you feel like you’re in a low-lit jazz night club with live instruments and perfect cadence.
The album has many quotable lyrics that you’ll just have to listen to for yourself. Instead of trying to compare her other female rappers like Cardi B or Nicki Minaj, people should give a nod to her underrated musicianship and rap.