Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Noname No Longer In Hiding: “For Me, Not Having a Name Expands My Creativity"

The Chicago artist continues to give more of herself and her honesty to the public.
DJBooth_logo2x

Noname is elusive. If you’ve been following her music, you already know how mindful she is, and how extremely private she is—two things that are atypical for a rapper. You also know she’s been going through the motions: of what it means to be a rapper, of what it means to be a woman who’s a rapper, and of what it means to be a black woman who’s a rapper.

If you didn’t know, though, these are a few of the interesting thoughts she revealed in a new interview with The FADER, where she also discusses her debut project Telefone, privacy, and the ideology behind Noname.

Noname has been a mystery for the longest time—and that’s something that’s even in her stage name. She explains the meaning behind Noname, “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.”

Later adding, “I’m a very reserved person—even the whole ‘Noname’ thing is also about this idea of not being so readily in people’s faces all the time.”

One thing she hasn’t been is ‘in [our] faces.’ We were first truly exposed to Noname in 2013, on Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap standout “Lost.” “I blessed myself inside your arms one day/ Swear to God there I was when the dress/ And the Silver buttons fade away,” she raps over the serene beat, the inflection of her voice telling us her background through poetry.

Over the last couple years, we’ve received a fair amount of guest features spots from the Chicago rapper, but nothing excessive. Among them are “Comfortable” from Mick Jenkins’ tape The Waters, “Warm Enough” from the Social Experiment’s album Surf, and Saba’s song “Open Apology.” Noname started dropping hints of a project in 2013, but we didn’t know if we’d ever actually hear it.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

BOTW-16x9--3-

DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace & Joony: Best of the Week

DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace, and Joony, among others, have the best new songs on Audiomack this week.

am-world-top10-nov-16x9--1-

10 Rappers You Should Know Right Now

Luh Soldier, Snowsa, SGaWD, and K.Charles are four of the 10 new rappers you need to know right now on Audiomack.

BOTW-16x9--2-

Freddie Gibbs, Saweetie & Earl Sweatshirt: Best of the Week

Freddie Gibbs, Saweetie, and Earl Sweatshirt, among others, had the best new songs on Audiomack this week.

But then she dropped the first single from Telefone, “All I Need,” last winter. And, as corny as it sounds, it was all we needed—affirmation that yes, her debut would be coming. The amazing thing about “All I Need” is that you can tell she’s found a bit of resolve; she’s lighter. Something she had been missing before, something she has been searching for in the interim, and something that is evident throughout her project.

That glow is also palpable in her FADER interview. When asked, “What is it like for you to be a black woman in 2016?", she responds, “Outside of all the violence and the death, take away all of the institutionalized oppression and colorism that exists — it’s fun as hell. Black women are taking over. I’m living in a time when Serena Williams is the greatest athlete in the world. Lemonade just came out and that shit was fucking fantastic. Ava DuVernay just aired her show [Queen Sugar]. Black women are going stupid right now. It’s very empowering to see. I feel good.”

Noname’s project is an exciting moment, not just for Chicago, and not just for black women, but for all of hip-hop. While Telefone is rare and her interview with The FADER even more so, it’s the honesty and care that she brings to hip-hop that’s most extraordinary. It’s something that isn’t easily replicated, and for that I thank her.

***

By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Instagram

Related

DJBooth_logo2x

Saba & Noname Showcase a Different Side of Chicago on "Church / Liquor Store"

The Pivot Gang member pushes the confines of Chicago rap, much of which has been staked on the South Side.

DJBooth_logo2x

Noname, Saba & More Bridge Chicago & NYC on Fresh "Counterfeit" Collab

The Midwest joins forces with the East Coast on a murky new lyrical affair.

DJBooth_logo2x

Kanye West Is "Tired of Making Videos," No Longer Wants to Be In Them

Always unfiltered, Kanye describes his desire to no longer be the focal point in his music videos.

DJBooth_logo2x

NoName's Album is Finally on the Way (Hopefully)

One of Chicago's strongest voices may finally be releasing the album so many have been waiting for.

DJBooth_logo2x

Nitty Scott on Misogyny in Rap: "I Was Told I Couldn't Be Sexy & Still Have Something to Say"

The emcee's latest comments continue to detail the uphill battle for females in hip-hop.

DJBooth_logo2x

Noname's "Telefone" Album is Everything We Hoped For & More

After three years of waiting Noname's debut album proves she's a complete artist and not just a feature killer.