Album: Room 25
Non-Airable Tracks: ALL
Description: Noname is a young south side Chicago rapper whom previously released the stunning album Telefone in 2016. Considered a rapper, her spoken word projects as a soothing poet. Much of her rhymes reflect on her life in Chicago, with her new album, Room 25, taking a deeper dive into her life as an adult. From the very beginning of this album you can tell Noname is in a different place in her life. Her rhymes are tightly packed with a new found confidence that bounces between conscious rap and comedic banter.
Room 25’s opening track, “Self” begins as a calm anecdote about current politics and religion, growing to her own success story; boasting confident lines “My p**** wrote a thesis on colonialism, In conversation with a marginal system in love with Jesus, and y’all still thought a b**** couldn’t rap huh?” Second track “Blaxploitation” samples a funky old school baseline, exemplifying the title itself of urban black film stereotypes of loving watermelon, fried chicken or basketball; “Immortalized all ’80s and then she real, real nasty. Keep the hot sauce in her purse and she be real, real blacky.” The next four songs feature “Prayer Song,” “Window,” “Don’t Forget About Me,” and “Regal.” These tracks all share the complex rhyme schemes and simplistically raw type of storytelling on top of melodic jazz chords and rich yet mellow beats. These tracks pack some of the most intense topics to swallow on the album, delivering them in such a way we see the idiocracy of the current political, economical, and millennial state America. Without blatantly stating her viewpoints on racism, poverty, love, sex, religion, etc., it gives listeners the ability to relate in regards to loneliness, lust, outrage, you name it. Truly beautiful word patterns any rapper tries to fulfill but Noname modestly and unapologetically delivers.
The next two tracks include my favorite features with Ravyn Lanea on “Montego Bae” and Smino and Saba on “Ace.” Both these tracks are upbeat with stories of fantasies on an island, Lanae sings “Oh sweet bae holy sun, Oh future husband, undress me under the moon, Sweet bae someday will come soon.” I particularly love Noname’s tone on this track, sounding lighthearted through a fast giddy delivery. Ace delivers a story of becoming a success any star never thought they could achieve, which ensues the next three tracks of the album to conclude on a outlook of acceptance and wanting to move forward. “Part of Me” and “Without You” tell the stories of wanting contentment and having to be okay with being so honest with the world through her music, but realizing her own demons are something that needs focus on. Room 25 ends with “No Name,” one of my favorite tracks on the album with her listing all the reasons her stage name No Name symbolizes the many amounts of people we treat as if they have no name, as if they were invisible. “No name for people to call small or colonize optimism, No name for inmate registries that they put me in prison” / “Cause when we walk into heaven, nobody’s name gon’ exist, just boundless movement for joy, nakedness radiance.” I believe this last track to be a symbolization of all that No Name encompasses.
She endlessly speaks for the people she grew up living with in Chicago, the stories and lives America deems to not care about in a world of corruption and power. It speaks for her own dreams as a rapper, not pursuing to be the next greatest rapper but to continue to tell her truths through the only way she knows right. Her music helps it’s listeners and herself in a search for finding fulfillment and reason that all life’s questions brings to the table.
Sounds Like: Saba, Chance the Rapper, Goldlink, Lauryn Hill
Reviewer’s Name: Megan Yeates
Date of Review: 10/3/18