Chicago-born rapper Noname dropped her debut album, Room 25, on Friday. Produced by collaborator Phoelix, Room 25 builds on Noname’s origins in the open mic scene, demonstrating her passion for poetry and eloquent command of spoken word. Noname first gained exposure after appearing on Chance the Rapper’s album Coloring Book, but quickly established her own voice with 2016 mixtape Telefone, followed up with two years of international touring. She remains independent, financing her own recordings and videos.
Telefone was an introduction to Noname’s unique style, mixing jazz and R&B with intricate, run-on rap verses. In Room 25, Noname refines her craft, coming into her fully-realized self. As she’s matured, her lyrics have become more provocative, but maintain a subtle humor. She never becomes aggressive or pushy, instead radiating a quiet power with her graceful delivery.
Room 25 creates a complex, organic sound that’s a welcome relief from the grating click tracks that saturate modern pop music. “Window” features gorgeous orchestral instrumentation that swells beneath Noname’s caressing inflections. “Regal” pulses with an infections groove and dreamy synthesizer, Noname murmuring with an invisible smile in her voice. “Blaxploitation” is one of the more severe tracks, presenting a woke persona by touching on social issues like systemic racism, and volatile tensions within the community. The song is woven with audio montage of 70’s blaxploitation films over an anxious, hopscotching bass.
This winter, Noname sets off on a North American tour that includes a Philly stop at Union Transfer on January 12. Give the new album a listen down below, and get more information on the concert at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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