Brixton Academy – 10th November
For the uninformed, Princess Nokia appears to be playing sold-out shows despite boasting a relatively new voice in a crowded hip hop scene. But when you learn that she’s been producing music under a number of guises since 2010, as well as ensuring her audience members always catch her live set within a safe space, the feverishly royal welcome she draws from a devoted Brixton crowd is increasingly easy to understand. With multiple hair flips, she returns the wild adoration, breezing through every offcut on recent mixtape 1992 via an extensive set and, incorporating a frenzied Slipknot interlude and smoke break, she ensures no one heads home with a flicker of disappointment.
Not that it was expected, either. Princess Nokia has garnered a reputation as a formidable live performer and it’s impossible not to be utterly engrossed. Scattering rapid-fire delivery towards every corner of the room and zigzagging from the barrier and back again, she’s bolstered by an extraordinarily varied collection of tracks. Marking her arrival to the screech of Sum 41’s ‘Fat Lip’, like every decent introduction should, she tears through ‘Tomboy’ and ‘Kitana’ with startling venom, the latter’s defiant roar of “I step in this bitch and I do what I want // I don’t give a damn and I don’t give a fuck” the first of many mass singalongs of the night. Perhaps most known for her tracks spliced with punk-like ferocity, it’s the slower paced ‘Goth Kid’ and ‘Receipts’ that linger longest in the memory.
Probably for the best, there are pauses for breath, however they prove to be no less hard-hitting than the tunes. Show rules are outlined early on and subjects of inclusivity, racism and gentrification of the Latin American community in London are addressed at length. As if you didn’t know already, it doesn’t matter what city you’re from, Princess Nokia gets you.
And that’s what makes her unmissable in a live capacity: no matter the size of the room, a Princess Nokia show feels powerfully personal. Only the uninformed would deny she’s one of hip hop’s most fascinating and vital figures.