Noname was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Starting as a poet, much of Noname’s music includes the spoken word style, as well as soulful elements like piano riffs, bass parts and steady drum beats. She contributed to both Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” and “Coloring Book” before making it big herself. On September 14, 2018 Noname released her newest album “Room 25.” She pushes the limits of her traditional sound and adds new musical elements on “Room 25.”

The album opens up with my personal favorite, “Self.” The song starts with a chorus of backup singers, as well as a fun bass part. If I could pair this song with image, I would honestly say this song feels like red velvet. Before she even begins to rap, that smooth, soulful feeling can be heard in the intro. She starts the song with “Maybe this the album you listen to in your car
When you driving home late at night.” I feel like so many people can relate to this line; every one has that certain song they put on for a late night drive. “Self” provides a smooth start to “Room 25.”

“Blaxploitation” provides a nice contrast to the smooth “Self.” The screams of a woman and man open up “Blaxploitation.” This aggressive beginning may throw the listener off-guard on the first listen. Both the intro and outro pull from different movie soundtracks that involve blaxploitation. After the spoken piece, the keyboard and bass open the song. The song’s name refers to exploiting black stereotypes; Noname combats this issue of stereotyping by taking back the language. She sings “I’m struggling to simmer down, maybe I’m an insomni-black. Bad sleep triggered by bad government.” This line speaks of Noname’s restlessness with the current political climate and presence of inequality, while using a clever play on words. Noname does an excellent job of commenting on her own emotions, as well as social and political themes on this record.

The album closes with the self-titled song “no name.” Noname uses her traditional soul elements, while also incorporating what sounds like a violin. This song feels like the perfect ending to “Room 25.” There is an almost heavenly sound that makes the listener feel very content and settled—a perfect feeling to close out the record. The listener gets a peak into Noname’s life and how she got to where she is now. “no name” closes out with the words “That love is still with you. Don’t let it pass you by.” These words reveal that although other things in life may change, love should always remain constant.

“Room 25” provokes many thoughts and feelings from any listener that comes in contact with the album. Noname’s use of soulful elements and thoughtful verses allows listeners to think on their own experiences and how these relate to a larger picture in our world. I would recommend “Room 25” to anyone looking for thought-provoking lyrics and good melodies.

About The Author

Colleen is a Chicago native, studying communication at UIUC. You can catch Colleen taking naps on the Quad or showcasing her killer dance moves at any party she attends. You DO NOT want to challenge this girl to a dance-off.

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