Buzzing Bronzeville, Chicago rapper Noname (Fatimah Warner) has finally made it to that special milestone of sharing with the world her very first project, a “mixtape” titled Telefone, released July 31 on SoundCloud. The cool young rhymer keeps it very kind and lovely on the issue, rapping on her desires, hopes and concerns and recalling un-erasable childhood memories and other mental snapshots from her past. She is very chill and soft and sends well wishes to her fam and friends in “Bye Bye Baby” and reveals her prayers for peace amidst the violence in her city in “Casket Pretty.”
All of the soul-soothing crooning and rhyming fit the warm, quiet, twinkly background music like a glove, and besides herself, the eleven guests, including theMIND, Raury, Cam O’bi, Saba and Smino, astonishingly don’t overcrowd the project and on the flip side help generate enthusiasm for the calm, gentle and tranquil feel of the proceedings. Noname is a welcome contrast to the brash harsh femcees of other areas and eras, and she is wise to reject over-sexualization and sassy booshy tendencies. It’s quite unique and original of her. Kudos to Noname.
Now for the part all artists dread, the blunt criticism. Noname is almost a singer at times so in the mixtape’s thirty-three minutes, she hasn’t given us enough of a show of her rapping/rhyming skills. She has them, but it would have been nice to hear more than we actually get here. And except for her thoughts on the rampant problem of Chicago violence, there is not much unconventional protesting or wowing going on that is so commonplace in rebel, renegade rap, but Noname seems to be no shock artist so she gets a pass (also considering this is her first album-effort). Otherwise, she does very well for hip-hop and Chicago overall in Telefone. The cuddly cozy productions are reminiscent of the general tone of Kanye’s College Dropout beats for example and blend nicely with the comforting Chancellor Bennett-style sounds and sentiments. It’s a real win by most accounts.
3 out of 5 stars