Did Noname’s Sequel Live Up To The Hype?
By Edward Kasule
Fatimah Warner, also known as Noname and Noname Gypsy, a 27-year-old rapper from Bronzeville, had me worried. The mysterious artist promised fans an album in September, and Labor Day Weekend had just passed. “Room 25,” her highly anticipated sophomore album, boasted features from some of the city’s biggest talents, such as Saba, Phoelix, and Ravyn Lenae. It had been almost two years since her debut release, “Telefone,” and fans were anxiously awaiting more music from her. Her last project was a masterpiece and had solidified her “ghetto lullabye” flow.
This “ghetto lullaby” style is what drew many fans to NoName. The talented emcee originated her style in the YCA and YouMedia Programs in Chicago, collaborating with other emcees her age. Some of those peers included Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, Alex Wiley, LUCKI, and Mick Jenkins. According to the Chicago Tribune, all of these artists came up under the wing of Brother Mike, who influenced them heavily. While describing the educator, poet, and activist, Noname said that “what he instilled in me and in all of us really is to be of service in whatever way our talents would allow.” Fatimah chose to be a social activist through her music. On “Telefone”, the artist told stories about things too common in Chicago: drug abuse, gang violence, and broken families. Songs such as “Casket Pretty,” show us a dark side of “Chiraq.” The chorus goes, “All of my [ ] is casket pretty, ain’t no one safe in this happy city. I hope you make it home, I hope to God that my tele’ don’t ring.” NoName sings this chilling refrain over a seemingly cheerful beat, that includes a sample of a baby crying and snaps. Another song, “Shadow Man,” talks about death in an almost romantic way. The intro and outro include the line, “Bless the nightingale, Darkness keep you well.”
On “Room 25,” NoName examines the come up-story that most successful black people share. The amount of self-doubt, inspiration, hardship, and perseverance involved in this feat is unmatched. Then, in the song “Blaxpotation,” the artist discusses the jealousy, trickery, and isolation from others that artists begin to encounter as they gain fame. Then, on songs like “Don’t Forget About Me” and “Regal,” NoName expresses ideas of staying true to one’s “black identity” and wanting to be protected. One instant hit from the album is “Ace,” where NoName grabs Saba and Smino to flex for 3 minutes and 3 seconds. On one of the closing tracks “With You” Noname talks about how her struggle will be marketed, and sold as just another “come up-story,” a fate that too many successful black people find. Students interested in hearing the album for themselves should certainly give the album a listen.