Written By: Fletcher Bonin
Noname, ironically, is making quite a name herself with her latest album, Telefone. This ten track release is as genuine and original as everything she’s ever done. Noname is the female version of Chance the Rapper, and in my opinion it is only a matter of time before she achieves similar acclaim. Like Chance, she is based out of Chicago, and she refuses to be signed by the greedy, mechanical corporations that are most major music labels. She and Chance even perform together sometimes, sharing this same desire to remain unsigned and thus more in charge of their own artistic direction. Telefone is smooth and artistic, featuring trickling synth piano instrumentals and unexpected, alternative beats. Her flow is relaxed and continuous over these enchanting beats. Her lyrics are complex and personal, and worth looking up if you have the time. She tells a story through each song from a place of comfort and reflection, making for truly great music.
It is hard for me to decide which track off this album is my favorite, as each one topped charts at different times. However, if forced to decide, I would say that ‘Reality Check’ featuring Eryn Allen Kane and Akenya is my favorite. Lyrically, it is powerful, moving and intriguing. The song starts out with a light, tripping instrumental and then Noname comes in, rapping deliberately laconic, “opportunity knockin, a nigga was out for coffee, inadequate like my window, the Grammy’s is way too lofty.” This reference of the Grammy’s being too lofty is true to her anti-label message, here promoting it in song.
‘Shadow Man’ has been a favorite of mine since its release as a single earlier this year. The song features the talented trio of Saba, Smino, and Phoelix singing and rapping over a luxurious, slow, snapping backbeat. Again, Noname enters relaxed, loosely rapping “shadow man, shadow box dance in the dark with me, there’s resonating agony, these apathy for caskets, everything I ever love I lost in the magic.” The lyrics go on with thought provoking stories, descriptive references and fascinating diction. Lyrically, Noname is my favorite rapper in the game right now. She departs from usual rap themes such as money, drugs, violence and even love in favor of telling a story. There is a truth and honesty to her words that are rare and essential in the modern rap industry. I hope that by remaining unsigned, she can continue to produce masterpieces like this. Her talent and unique sound make Telefone a sublime album fit for heavy rotation. Add this album to your library, hit shuffle, and then let it take you away.
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