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Noname Releases “Room 25” Two Years After Last Album

%22Room+25%22+is+Noname%27s+latest+album.

"Room 25" is Noname's latest album.

Lara Garay

Lara Garay

"Room 25" is Noname's latest album.

Jonah Tauber, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Falcon Rating: 5/5


Chicago rapper Noname, two years since her debut, 
Telefone, is back with a gem in Room 25. An intimate and jazzy work, this album is sure to light up any listener’s downtime. Noname’s cutting, spoken-word style lyricism is a breath of fresh air and originality in today’s rap landscape. The album spans eleven tracks and is just over a half-hour in duration, but its fully-developed musical ideas provide the satisfaction of a longer project.

The album opens with “Self,” in which Noname’s smooth rapping lies over entrancing backing vocals and a pleasant beat. It’s a perfect intro, bringing the listener into the relaxed vibe of the album. “Blaxploitation” is the next track, and the smooth bass of “Self” transforms into a funky, in-your-face beat reminiscent of the music from 70s “blaxploitation” films. Noname’s lyrics here are intensely political and personal, describing the anxieties of being black while beset by stereotypes and discrimination. This theme continues in “Prayer Song,” which is filled with commentary on the state of America. The second verse, which is from the perspective of a violent police officer who murders and imprisons black people, is particularly powerful.

In “Window,” Noname turns inward and reflects on money, love, and self-esteem. The chorus captures the introspective sentiments, with guest vocalist Phoelix singing, “Quit looking out the window/Go find yourself.” This theme is continued on “Don’t Forget About Me,” which Noname herself has said is her favorite song on the album. In it, she contemplates her growing fame and the pressures and anxieties that come with it. She raps about obligation to her fans, cosmetic surgery, and painkillers. The wistful-sounding instrumentation also helps to enhance the power of the lyrics.

“Regal” and “Montego Bae” are two low-key but beautiful tracks that help to fill out the middle of the album. On the former, Noname craftily weaves in powerful messages with the pleasant melodies of the song. The latter features excellent vocals from Ravyn Lenae, which take up most of the track. The next song, “Ace,” features Smino and Saba, who, together with Noname, make up The Goat Trio. This is the most fun song on the album, with all three artists showing off delicious flows with captivatingly complex rhythms.

The album is rounded out with three intimate, melancholy songs: “Part of Me,” “With You,” and “no name.” These are all deeply personal, especially the closing track, which is a powerful statement on why Noname chose an almost anonymous persona as a rapper. Her final lines particularly resonate: “Cause when we walk into heaven, nobody’s name gon’ exist/Just boundless movement for joy, nakedness radiance.”

Room 25 is a masterfully crafted album, and certainly one that I’ll return to over and over again. The production throughout the tracks is absolutely heavenly, adding color all over.

Noname’s lyrical chops are on full display. She provides some of the most intelligent wordplay and compelling rhyme schemes I’ve heard on any recent releases. It’s not just pleasing to the ear; there is a ton of personal and political meaning behind her rapping. I suggest giving it several listens, because as much as I enjoyed it the first time around, it gets better every time as you notice the little things. With such a well-made sophomore album, we can all look forward to Noname’s future work.

 

This piece also appears in our October 2018 print edition.

About the Contributors
Jonah Tauber, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Lara Garay, Arts Editor

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Orchestra, chamber music,...

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Noname Releases “Room 25” Two Years After Last Album