With a current landscape in which female rappers are squaring up with one another, artists are hyper-prolific and we are immersed in trap record after trap record, Noname’s Room 25 is an eagerly-awaited breath of fresh air.
Exploring themes of identity, race and politics, the 26 year-old delivers a truly magnificent follow-up to Telefone, establishing herself as on of the most exciting rappers in the game right now.
Reinstating exactly who she is as an artist, the jazz-tinged collection is characterised by rhymes and flow patterns that are hard to grasp yet soulful and soothing, with darker and compelling verses than her 2016 debut. There’s a sense of growth and maturity, as she raps in the opening track Self, “And y’all still thought a bitch couldn’t rap huh? / Maybe this your answer for that good pussy.” In recent interviews, Noname, aka Fatimah Nyeema Warner has divulged a that she felt more inclined to play around with being braggadocious as a way of self-assurance.
In essence, Warner as a narrator is more assertive, mature and calculated, but tongue-in-cheek. Making political statements without aggression or coarseness, there’s an effortlessly cool vibe to it, “Bad sleep triggered by bad government / Put a think piece in the rap song, the new age covenant,” she raps.
This wordplay is not restricted to just highlighting politics however, Warner also uses it to produce tender moments such as in Don’t Forget About Me in which she muses on her mother’s battle with cancer, “All her hair gone/ Feeling fishy, Finding Chemo/ Smoking seaweed for calm / These Disney movies too close.” This sense of intimacy makes for a truly poignant moment in the album.
Often poetic, her lyricism is smart and captivating. Soulfully bouncing from beat to beat her hushed tones create a sense of approachability, with tracks like With You giving a detailed portrait of identity, and womanhood, “All my halfway hallelujahs are tippy-toed in the mail / All the fluctuations on scales / And the missing therapy sessions of bullies treating me well.”
Room 25 is lush, layered and restful with undertones of self-assurance and maturity. Here, we are given a glimpse of just how much of a rap maverick Noname really is. Gifting her audience with an album that is wistful yet passionate, with truly faultless results. In an age of political uncertainty she expresses discontempt and fear without riling her audiences, she shares her experience of womanhood in a universal way, and comes to age before us. The intricate subtleties and honesty in her lyrics, make Noname a truly hypnotizing artist with this album being the strong, perfectly imperfect release we all needed to hear.