"I saw a demon on my shoulder, it's lookin' like patriarchy." — Song 32.
Hip Hop artist Noname announced from her Instagram account nonamehiding that a new album will drop in July. Titled Sundial, I anticipate Noname will help orient us, the listeners, through the Karen-infested rainforest-wilderness of post-lockdown America.
Since her first album, Room 25 was released in 2018, Noname (Fatimah Nyeema Warner) has made quite a name for herself. As reported at Consequence Sound, "In the time since releasing Room 25, her musical output has been limited to a single called 'Rainforest' (which was originally destined for Factory Baby), a remix of Anderson .Paak's "Lockdown," and the Madlib-produced 'Song 33,' which served as a response track to J Cole's 'Snow On Tha Bluff.'
In J Cole's joint, the megastar seemed to be directing his words to Noname.
"I scrolled through her timeline in these wild times and I started to read
She mad at these crackers, she mad at these capitalists, mad at these murder police,
She mad at my niggas, she mad at our ignorance, she wear her heart on her sleeve
She mad at the celebrities, low key I be thinkin she talking bout me
Now I ain't no dummy to think I'm above criticism so when I see something that's valid I listen But Shit, its something about the queen tone that's bothering me…
just cuz you woke and I'm not, that shit ain't no reason to talk like you better than me How you gon lead, when you attacking the very same niggas that really do need The shit that you saying? instead of conveying you holier come help get us up to speed."
In "Song 32," Noname replies.
"One girl missin', another one go missin'
One girl missin', another
But niggas in the back, quiet as a church mouse
Basement studio when duty calls to get the verse out
I guess the ego hurt now
It's time to go to work, wow, look at him go
He really 'bout to write about me when the world is in smokes?
When it's people in trees?
When George was beggin' for his mother, saying he couldn't breathe
You thought to write about me?
What I most appreciate and admire about Noname is the intentionality of her humility and her propensity to engage contradictions – her own and the larger consumer culture, political milieu, and social relationships within the music industry. Noname's early pandemic-era Twitter account was a real-time chronicle of her process of learning and unlearning ideas, revisiting previous assumptions and analysis, and offering an honest take on why she changes her views and perspectives about politics and life.
Joseph Earp from Junkee explains, "The musician doesn't treat her Twitter account like a PR exercise, or even a diary. She uses it as an opportunity to hone and explore the things that she finds interesting in her art. Not that you should operate under the misapprehension that Noname's account is some weighty, serious tome. It's not, and she is, first and foremost, extremely funny."
Noname is adamantly vocal about the anti-Black politics of US civil society and white supremacist culture, as well as the impact of capitalism on the lives of working-class people. In this 2021 Rolling Stone profile, Mankaparr Conteh shares that Noname has purchased a house in the historically Black and rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, Leimert Park. "It's hard to name another young musician so critically adored and civically engaged: not stumping-for-Bernie civically engaged, but dedicating-their-lives-and-sacrificing-their-wealth-to-move-the-needle-to-the-left civically engaged. Fatimah's social media has been an unending trail of revolutionary learning materials and her synthesis of them, from the teachings of Karl Marx to takes on the Cuban embargo to condemnations of LGBTQ persecution in Ghana."
In 2019, along with a crew of supporters, she founded the Noname Book Club, "reading material for the homies." In addition to a monthly meeting virtual and irl, the pandemic birthed a new project. "In addition to building community with folks across the country we also send our monthly book picks to incarcerated comrades through our Prison Program."
In early 2023, Noname shared her perspective on appropriation and social media. "One of the biggest mistakes i believe we've made in our struggle towards liberation in this country is allowing white america unfiltered access to our entire culture," she wrote. "White america has created an institution of violent policing and medical neglect that is killing us EVERY F***ING DAY. and every day we get on their platforms (tik tok, twitter etc) and we create trends, music, art and language that they turn into billions."
Click here to find a Noname book club to join or create your own.