Noname (rapper)

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Noname
Noname onstage smiling, holding a microphone
Noname in 2017
Background information
Birth nameFatimah Nyeema Warner
Born (1991-09-18) September 18, 1991 (age 29)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • activist
InstrumentsVocals
Years active2010–present
Associated acts
Websitenonameraps.bandcamp.com

Fatimah Nyeema Warner (born September 18, 1991), known professionally as Noname, is an American rapper, poet, and record producer from the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago.[1] She began rapping and performing slam poetry in 2010, and gained wider recognition in 2013 for her appearance on the track "Lost" from Chance the Rapper's mixtape, Acid Rap.[2]

Noname released her debut mixtape, Telefone, on July 31, 2016 to critical acclaim.[3][4][5] Her debut album, Room 25, was released on September 14, 2018 and received further critical acclaim. Since 2019, Noname has run her own book club, focused on radical texts from authors of color.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Noname grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. She was raised by her grandparents until she was in middle school. When she returned to live with her mother, she had a new sibling and she and her mother did not get along.

As a teenager, she listened to blues musicians Buddy Guy and Howlin' Wolf,[1] and spent time in her mother's bookstore.[8] She started writing poetry after taking a creative writing class in high school.[9] As a teen, she spent time in the YOUMedia project—a space for young artists to create and network—then based in the Harold Washington Library. There, she befriended many local talents, including Chance the Rapper.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

2010–2015: Early works[edit]

Noname's interest in poetry led her to compete in local open mics and slam poetry competitions; she placed third place in Chicago's annual Louder Than a Bomb competition. Noname then started to freestyle rap with friends, collaborating with local Chicago artists including Chance the Rapper, Saba & Mick Jenkins.[citation needed]

In 2013, she appeared on Chance the Rapper's second mixtape, Acid Rap, contributing a verse to the track "Lost," where she sang the chorus to the song as well as her own verse.[10] She later contributed a verse for the song "Finish Line/Drown" from Chance the Rapper's 2016 mixtape Coloring Book. In December 2016, she appeared with Chance the Rapper on Saturday Night Live.[11] She announced her first tour on November 13, 2016.[citation needed]

In 2014, she was featured on Mick Jenkins' mixtape The Waters, contributing to the track "Comfortable".[12] In 2015, she was featured on multiple tracks from Kirk Knight's album Late Knight Special.[citation needed] During that year, she also featured on fellow Chicago rapper Ramaj Eroc's single "I Love You More".[13]

2016–2017: Telefone[edit]

Noname on her Telefone tour in 2017

Noname first used the stage name "Noname Gypsy", which she chose as a teenager when she was transitioning from poetry to music, believing "gypsies were very nomadic, just not about staying in one space for a long time".[14] In March 2016, she removed "Gypsy" from her stage name after learning of its racial connotation,[15] saying she was unaware of the negative connotations of the term "gypsy" and did not want to offend Romani people.[16] In a 2016 interview with The Fader, she explained her current stage name, following the change:

I try to exist without binding myself to labels. I’m not really into labels at all, even the way I dress; I usually don't wear anything with a name brand. For me, not having a name expands my creativity. I’m able to do anything. Noname could potentially be a nurse, Noname could be a screenwriter. I’m not limited to any one category of art or other existence, on a more existential level.[17]

Noname released her first mixtape, Telefone, on July 31, 2016, after three years of production.[18] Telefone was Noname's method of publicizing her new stage name, through songs presented as open-ended telephone conversations.[19] The album is centered around important telephone conversations that Noname has had.[19] Her rap speaks of black women's pain and also highlights the struggles of growing up in Chicago.[19] The album was originally released as a free download on Bandcamp, and then on vinyl in September 2017.[20]

Rolling Stone wrote it was one of 2016's "most thought-provoking hip-hop."[3] Stereogum wrote that Noname possessed "a potency and urgency in her complicated, spoken word-esque cadences and subdued delivery that escapes many of her more animated peers."[4] Consequence of Sound wrote that "the louder her music is played, the brighter her cadence glows, giving her lyrics a type of 3D craft that makes Telefone a diary of lessons too relevant to keep to yourself."[5]

In October 2016, Noname and fellow Chicago resident, Saba, collaborated to produce "Church/Liquor Store", a song that explores the Westside of Chicago where liquor stores sit directly next to places of worship.[21] Noname critiques the gentrification of the neighborhood and the erasure of crime believed to accompany it.[21]

Noname performed a NPR Tiny Desk Concert in April 2017.[22]

2018–2019: Room 25[edit]

In August 2018, Noname announced that her second album, Room 25, would be released in the fall of 2018.[23] The album, which took approximately one month to record, chronicles the two years since the release of Telefone, during which she moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, and had a short romantic relationship.[24]

Noname compared her maturity on Room 25 to Telefone, saying "Telefone was a very PG record because I was very PG. I just hadn't had sex."[25] Unlike Telefone, Room 25 was created due to a financial obligation. Noname said in an interview, "It came to a point where it was, like, I needed to make an album because I need to pay my rent. I could've done another Telefone tour, but I can't play those songs anymore. Like, I could, but I physically hate it because I've just been playing them for so long."[25] Noname paid for the entire album herself using money from touring and guest appearances on Chance the Rapper projects.[25]

The album was released on September 14, 2018. El Hunt of NME described the album as "flawless" and "smartly constructed and laced with intricate subtlety." Rolling Stone said Noname was "One of the best rappers alive" and included her on a list of "Artists You Need to Know".[24] Pitchfork designated Room 25 as "Best New Music" and wrote that it is "a transcendent coming-of-age tale built around cosmic jazz and neo-soul, delivered by a woman deeply invested in her interiority and that of the world around her." PopMatters said the album was "vintage neo-soul and future rap hand in hand; a soulful sanctuary for those turned off by the austerity of mainstream mumble rap". She performed a three-song medley of "Blaxploitation," "Prayer Song," and "Don't Forget About Me" from the album in her solo television debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 17, 2018.[26]

2019–present: Factory Baby[edit]

On May 15, 2019, Noname announced that her upcoming second studio album would be titled Factory Baby.[27] Noname also formed trio Ghetto Sage, with Smino and Saba.[28]

In November 2019, Noname announced she was considering quitting music and expressed frustration with her predominantly white audience.[29][30] She went on to say that the demographics of her fanbase made her want to quit music: "I refuse to keep making music and putting it online for free for people who won’t support me. If y'all don't wanna leave the crib I feel it. I don't want to dance on a stage for white people."[29][31][32] In 2020, she reiterated that her music career was on pause to focus on education and her book club.[33]

On June 18, 2020, two days after J. Cole had seemingly criticized her activism in his song "Snow on tha Bluff", Noname released the Madlib-produced "Song 33", in which she alluded to Cole and reflected on violence against black women, mainly the death of 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist Oluwatoyin Salau.[34][35] She later took down the song and expressed regret at responding to Cole, stating that although she had tried to bring the attention back to issues she cared about, she ultimately felt it created further distraction.[33]

On August 7, 2020, Noname appeared on a remix to Anderson Paak's "Lockdown", along with JID and Jay Rock.[36] In February 2021, Noname revealed she had turned down an offer to be on the soundtrack for Judas and the Black Messiah after seeing the film, criticizing the film for not centering Fred Hampton's "radical communist politics".[37][38]

Noname Book Club[edit]

In July 2019, Noname created a book club. She came up with the idea after a fan commented on Twitter that they were reading the same book as her, Jackson Rising, about Cooperation Jackson.[39][40] The book club encourages support of locally owned bookstores, with her website providing a directory of bookstores owned by people of color.[39] Noname described the book club as a “a little bit of a fuck you to Amazon, and kind of a fuck you to the FBI," referencing how the FBI's COINTELPRO program had targeted Black independent booksellers.[39] The book club has partnerships with libraries in Oakland, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, where the library promote and help readers find the chosen books.[41] It also hosts discussions on the literature and donates books to prisons.[42]

The book club chooses two books a month, with the first two books chosen being Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby.[40][43] Celebrities sometimes choose the book club selection, including Kehlani (choosing Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler) and Earl Sweatshirt (choosing Faces & Masks (Memory of Fire, Vol. 2) by Eduardo Galeano).[41] The book club aims to provide a "radical curated book list"[7] and has been described by Vogue as focusing on "anti-capitalist and radical leftist literature".[44]

In January 2020, Noname created "Library Card Registration Day" asking people to go to their local libraries on January 11 and register for a library card.[45] The day was described by Noname as "basically an 'F you' to major corporations who have privatized the way we consume goods and services," specifically referencing how her mother's bookstore had closed due to Amazon.[45][46] Noname also called for her followers to end their subscriptions with Amazon, tweeting that Amazon had "created a consumer model that is extremely addictive and removes human compassion. We don’t think about the workers who are underpaid and exploited. We just want our next-day delivery."[45]

In March 2021, Noname revealed via her Instagram story that work on a physical headquarters for Noname Book Club had begun, which would act as a center for political education classes, book drives, a library, food drives, book club meet-ups, tent drives, free art shows, free movie screenings, and more.[47] In April 2021, Haymarket Books donated 180 titles to the book club's personal collection of reading material, which Noname described as a "radical community library."[48]

Influences[edit]

Musically and stylistically, Noname has credited musicians Avril Lavigne,[49] Nina Simone, André 3000, Kanye West, and Missy Elliott as her influences.[2] She cites the author Toni Morrison and poet Patricia Smith as notable influences on her writing style.[50] Her most recent work revolves around themes of social injustices, inspired by anti-capitalist theories.[51]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details
Title Album details
Room 25
Factory Baby
  • Released: 2021[52]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download

Mixtape[edit]

Title Album details
Telefone

Singles[edit]

List of singles, with year released and album name shown
Title Year Album
"Song 31"[53]
(featuring Phoelix)
2019 Non-album singles
"Song 32"[54]
"Häagen Dazs"[55]
(as Ghetto Sage, with Saba and Smino)
"Song 33"[56] 2020
"Rainforest"[57] 2021

Guest appearances[edit]

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Artist(s) Album
"The Truth" 2013 Mick Jenkins Trees & Truths
"Lost" Chance the Rapper Acid Rap
"Touchdown" John Walt Get Happy 2.0
"All Love" 2014 C-Sick, Taylor Bennett, Nick Astro La Collection
"Comfortable" Mick Jenkins The Water[s]
"Future Plans Pt. III" Woo Park Smokes
"Food for Thought" 2015 IKON, Saba, Malcolm London, Anthony Pavel Private Stock
"Warm Enough" Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiement, J. Cole Surf
"I Love You More" Ramaj Eroc N/A
"Israel (Sparring)" Chance the Rapper N/A
"Last Dance" Chance the Rapper, Lil B Free (Based Freestyles Mixtape)
"Dead Friends" Kirk Knight, Thundercat Late Knight Special
"I Had Music" 2016 Mont Jake Shadow
"Finish Line / Drown" Chance the Rapper, T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane Coloring Book
"Only the Beginning" theMIND Summer Camp
"VRY BLK" Jamila Woods HEAVN
"Into You" Jesse Boykins III Bartholomew
"Angles" Mick Jenkins, Xavier Omär The Healing Component
"Church / Liquor Store" Saba Bucket List Project
"Counterfeit" Phoelix, Chelsea Reject, Saba Countdown 2 Midnight
"The Tragedy" Jeremih, Chance the Rapper Merry Christmas Lil' Mama
"Amphetamine" 2017 Smino blkswn
"Kale" Joseph Chilliams, Supa Bwe Henry Church
"For A Reason" 2018 Tennis Shoes Breakfast

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Maule, A. (February 27, 2015). "Rising Chicago rapper was reared on Buddy Guy, not Tupac". MSNBC. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "10 New Artists You Need to Know: September 2016". Rolling Stone. September 14, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Review: Noname's 'Telefone' Is Truth-Telling Hip-Hop Sunshine". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "50 Best Albums of 2016". Stereogum. December 1, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Top 50 Albums of 2016". Consequence of Sound. November 28, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  6. ^ Stevenson, Iman (July 29, 2020). "The Black Book Club Takes It to the Next Level". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Noname Book Club [@NonameBooks] (July 8, 2020). "Don't ever worry about "keeping up". We like to think of ourselves as a resource providing a radical curated book list. If you can read along that's great but it's not mandatory Green heart" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 8, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2021 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ Brown, Raaziq (October 20, 2016). "A Chicago poet finds her hip-hop voice". Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ Eoin Butler. (2016). JAMILA WOODS ft. NONAME vry blk. Dublin, Ireland: The Irish Times Ltd.
  10. ^ "Noname Gypsy". General Admission. September 26, 2014. Archived from the original on March 25, 2015. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  11. ^ Swartz, Tracy (December 18, 2016). "Chance the Rapper performs on final 'SNL' episode of 2016". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^ "Mick Jenkins - The Water[s]". Hiphopdx. August 22, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  13. ^ https://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX- (July 19, 2015). "Ramaj Eroc f. Noname Gypsy - "I Love You More"". HipHopDX. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  14. ^ "Noname, Sincerely". The FADER. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  15. ^ "Noname Gypsy Changes Her "Racially Inappropriate" Name". The FADER. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  16. ^ Noname [@noname] (March 18, 2016). "When i first decided what my stage name would be I was unaware of how racially inappropriate and offensive it was to Romani people" (Tweet). Retrieved September 25, 2017 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ "Noname, Sincerely". The FADER. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  18. ^ Kot, Greg. "Noname makes patience a virtue in her rise". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c "Noname: Telefone Album Review | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  20. ^ "Noname's 'Telefone' getting first pressing through VMP". modern-vinyl.com. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "They sold, they sold / They sold prison the way they pipeline". Genius. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  22. ^ "Noname: Tiny Desk Concert". NPR.org. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "Noname's new album 'Room 25' is out next month!". DIY. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Klinkenberg, Brendan (September 14, 2018). "Noname Is One of the Best Rappers Alive". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c Kameir, Rawiya (September 11, 2018). "Here comes Noname". The Fader. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  26. ^ Minsker, Evan (October 18, 2018). "Watch Noname Perform Room 25 Medley on "Colbert"". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  27. ^ "Noname reveals the title of her new album: Factory Baby". Consequence of Sound. May 15, 2019. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  28. ^ Renshaw, D. (October 15, 2019). "Noname, Saba, and Smino form supergroup Ghetto Sage". Fader. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  29. ^ a b Graves, Wren (November 30, 2019). "Noname may quit music, says she won't perform for mostly white audiences". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "Noname says she may quit music: "I don't want to dance on a stage for white people"". NME. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  31. ^ "Noname Won't Keep Performing for Predominantly White Crowds". XXL. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  32. ^ "Noname Says She's No Longer Going To 'Dance On A Stage For White People'". HipHopDX. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  33. ^ a b Bloom, Madison. "Watch Noname Talk About Her Book Club, Quarantine, More on Desus & Mero". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  34. ^ Johnson, Patrick (June 18, 2020). "Chance The Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, Jean Grae and More Criticize J. Cole's "Snow On Tha Bluff"". Hypebeast. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  35. ^ "Noname Said What Needed to Be Said". Complex. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  36. ^ Martoccio, Angie (August 7, 2020). "Anderson .Paak Enlists Noname for 'Lockdown' Remix". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  37. ^ "Noname Passed on 'Judas and the Black Messiah' Soundtrack After Seeing the Film". Complex. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  38. ^ "The Hip-Hop Road to Socialism". jacobinmag.com. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  39. ^ a b c Ruiz, Matthew Ismael. "Watch Noname Discuss Her Book Club on The Daily Show". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  40. ^ a b Minsker, Evan. "Noname Launches Book Club". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  41. ^ a b "Noname's Book Club Comes to the Oakland Library". KQED. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  42. ^ "'I Want Us To Dream A Little Bigger': Noname And Mariame Kaba On Art And Abolition". NPR.org. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  43. ^ "Reading For All The Homies: Rapper Noname Starts New Book Club". Essence. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  44. ^ Hess, Liam. "The 10 Most Anticipated Albums of Summer 2021". Vogue. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  45. ^ a b c Bero, Tayo. "Noname Is Fighting to Save Black Intellectual Spaces". Teen Vogue. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  46. ^ "On Jan. 11, Rapper Noname Wants You To Register For A Library Card". NPR.org. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  47. ^ Cowen, Trace William (March 2, 2021). "Noname's Book Club Headquarters to Provide Political Education Classes, Food Drives, and More". Complex. Archived from the original on March 2, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  48. ^ Warner, Fatimah [@noname] (April 2, 2021). "so grateful for the folks over at @haymarketbooks for this amazing donation!! 180 different titles! can't thank you all enough for helping us build our radical community library. we have a long way to go but this is such a wonderful start 💚" (Tweet). Archived from the original on April 2, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021 – via Twitter.
  49. ^ Herwees, Tasbeeh. "Exploring Avril Lavigne's Strange, Enduring Influence On Hip-Hop". Nylon. Retrieved August 11, 2018. Artist Noname, from Chicago, said there was a time where she listened to “nothing but Avril Lavigne.”
  50. ^ "Noname, Sincerely". The FADER. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  51. ^ ""Rainforest" by Noname Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  52. ^ Noname (November 4, 2019). "Noname on Twitter: "I don't really talk about my music much on here but I'm dropping an album 2020 if anybody's interested"". Twitter. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  53. ^ "Song 31 (feat. Phoelix) - Single by Noname" – via music.apple.com.
  54. ^ "Song 32 - Single by Noname" – via music.apple.com.
  55. ^ "Noname, Saba, and Smino Drop "Häagen Dazs" as New Group Ghetto Sage". Complex.
  56. ^ Evan Minsker (June 18, 2020). "Listen to Noname's New "Song 33"". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  57. ^ "Rainforest - Single by Noname" – via music.apple.com.

External links[edit]