Artist Spotlight: Noname


Fatima Warner, AKA Noname

Jonathan Watt, Reporter

When I mention the name “Noname Gypsy”, nothing may come into your mind. Well, it’s about time to change that. Noname, AKA Fatimah Nyeema Warner, has proven herself a force to be reckoned with in a musical genre dominated almost entirely by mumble-rapping teenagers, not to mention one with an undeniable lack of substantive female artists. She is the greatest breath of fresh air I’ve ever experienced on the rap scene; I’m consistently impressed by her creative drive and her infectious smile, which is so infectious it seems like you can hear it through the speakers. She’s become my latest musical addiction, and I think if you gave her a chance, she’d do just the same for you.

Noname began her career with Chance the Rapper in Chatham, a neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. As a part of several groups of artists and poets, she was introduced to slam poetry and was able to perfect her signature “Chicago Soul” style which is shared by Chance. She even channels the flow of some other rap artists- I personally hear MF DOOM’s influence at times, especially when she strings a single rhyme for as many as thirty seconds without stopping.

As a rapper, her music is a melodic blend of social justice and neo-soul. She doesn’t make her political agenda a secret, especially in her first album, Telefone. One of her earlier songs, “Casket Pretty,” sheds light on police brutality and gang violence in her neighborhood (the unfortunate usual suspects), weaving the graphic violence into a beautiful flow:

Badges and pistols rejoice in the night

And we watch the news, and we see him die tonight

Tonight the night his baby said goodbye

Roses in the road, teddy bear outside, bullet there on the right

Where’s love when you need it?

Too many babies in suits

Apart from her solo work, Noname is known primarily for her intermittent collaboration with Chance the Rapper, who featured her on the track “Lost” on Chance’s Acid Rap mixtape. However, as her discography expanded, so did she- I was personally introduced to her through NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts early last year. Since then, she has released a new album, Room 25. She collaborated with Smino, Saba, and some other notable names to create an emotional and raw, yet undoubtedly zen-like experience that held me until I finished the last track. The production was smooth and boppy, with obvious influences from artists like Sampha.

If I’ve held you for this long, then I encourage you all to check out Noname on Spotify and Apple Music.