Noname brings a very unique voice to rap music. Her work and voice radiate a more chill and mellow tone than other rappers of this generation typically display. Her advanced rhyme schemes and lyrics can be somewhat in part credited to her career path before becoming a rapper: spoken word poetry. Gradually, Noname shaped her spoken word and slam poems into her rap career, which is beginning to take off, as the Chicago native rapper releases her long-awaited second mixtape, Room 25, on September 14th, 2018.
Room 25 came out two years after Noname’s first mixtape, Telefone. On her first mixtape, Noname shared her stories and struggles of growing up, as well as delving into the amount of loss she’s witnessed in her 26 years of life.
Listening to Noname rap, it’s hard not to be blown away. Noname manages to rap incredibly fast while remaining articulate and precise. No matter what speed she’s rapping at, she manages to make every word not only heard but impactful.
Room 25 consists of eleven tracks, featuring other artists and rappers such as Adam Ness, Phoenix, Ravyn Lenae, Smino, Saba, Benjamin Earl Turner, and Yaw.
The second mixtape does not disappoint and continues to show Noname’s growth and talent as an up and coming female rapper. The mixtape starts off with two strong tracks, ‘Self’ and ‘Blaxploitation’, which explore the artist’s identity as well as the struggles that accompany being black in America today. Continuing into the third track, ‘Prayer Song’, featuring Adam Ness, Noname delves into more general issues plaguing America- like greed and the uglier parts of human nature through the use of metaphors like obesity. By the fourth track, Noname adopts a more mellow tone and employs the use of string instruments in the background of the track to soften the mood. This softer tone continues to stick for tracks such as ‘Regal’, ‘Montego Bay’, and ‘With You’.
On ‘Ace’, a track that also features rappers Smino and Saba, Noname raps about being an unsigned rapper, and how that can keep her and other unsigned artists more earnest. Her unsigned status is another trait she shares with fellow Chicago artist, Chance the Rapper- all of Chance’s mixtape have been released independently.
Tracks like ‘Don’t Forget About Me’, the fifth track off of the album, dive into the more personal insecurities that the rapper possesses. Noname raps about not being forgotten by her family and loved ones after her time is up. Noname has the ability to apply her own personal strifes to greater social issues- which is a skill that most current day ‘rappers’ seem to be lacking. Skills like these combined with the fact that Noname has the ability to rap not only fast but articulately makes it seem as if she would fit in perfectly alongside more old school rappers, but her advanced use of background noises and instrumentals add another layer of depth into each song that sets her apart.
On her last two tracks, ‘With You’ and ‘No name’, the rapper keeps a very similar tone — the maintaining of optimism despite how badly the circumstances might appear. Both tracks speak tremendously to Noname’s views on living your life, and how nothing should be taken for granted, especially the opportunities you are given.
Room 25 demonstrates Noname’s prevalence as an artist and how much she has been able to grow since the release of her first mixtape. Her innate ability to balance louder, more straightforward tracks with mellow, deeper tracks illustrates her maturity as an artist. The release of this mixtape should put Noname on everyone’s radar, as it demonstrates the sheer amount of raw talent the artist possesses.
Featured Image: Album cover of Room 25 by Noname