By Sawyer Pollitt. Staff Writer
Chicago based rapper and poet Fatimah Nyeema Warner better known as Noname is back at it again with Room 25, her second full length album after Telefone.
This new project is more of the mellow, poignant, and soulful jazz-rap Noname is known for.
Noname rose to prominence after being featured on “Coloring Book” by Chance the Rapper.
However, as Room 25 and her previous album Telefone show, she is more than capable of standing on her own as a solo artist and lets her art shine through in what she does.
It is impossible to discuss a modern rap album without talking about the beats that are put down on this LP.
No matter which side of the “beat fetishism” debate one falls on, it is easy to see that Room 25 not only has a wonderful production, but as will be explained later, the ideas and lyrics to back it up.
Every track, from the fourth song “Window” which is reminiscent of the “Low-fi beats to relax to” genre all the way to the driving bass and vocal samples of “Blaxploitation” prove that there’s always something interesting to listen to on Room 25. It’s a rare occurrence on this LP that I was tempted to skip a song.
Every track offered something different sonically and lyrically, while still staying true to the overall musical theme of the project. The instrumentation on many of the jazzier tracks invokes visions of a smoky club with live bands and beat poets.
The entire album has a dreamy quality about it. Noname’s tone throughout the work is largely calming and constant.
Her vocals are supported by soft piano, crisp strings, and smooth backup singers. The sonic bed on which Noname’s voice lies is masterfully produced by Chicago based artist Phoelix.
Oftentimes features on tracks feel forced or out of place. There have been to many times where I’m enjoying a song only for the feature to waltz in and ruin the fun. Every feature on Room 25 avoids this. Woven into the fabric of every song, the feature list is welcome and
The standout feature on this album however is Ravyn Lenae on the track “Montego Bae.” Lenae’s voice fits perfectly with the Latin groove on this song and brings to mind Astrid Gilberto and the Bossa Nova sounds that came out of Brazil in the mid-60’s.
Her verses on this track leave you wanting more from her and left me wishing she was on other tracks in this project.
Any piece of art cannot subsist on aesthetics alone and Room 25 understands this perfectly. Not one to pull any punches, Noname unleashes the social commentary on this project.
She has a lot to say and is not afraid to say it. She dives into topics and themes that affect every socially conscious person in America.
Noname raps about black culture in America, issues of police brutality, and feminism with a flow that is both disarming yet simultaneously commanding.
It is very difficult to ignore her presence on these tracks. The density of meaning in the lyrics is part of what makes this album as good as it is.
It gives the listener something to go back to and discover. Many of the lyrics will take me, admittedly, many more listens to fully unpack.
On a 10 point scale, Room 25 snatches a rating of 9.
The gorgeous production pulls in the listener and allows Noname to hit them with important and impactful lyrics that need to be heard.
Her clout as a poet truly shines through in this album and bridges the gap between spoken word and music, resulting in art.
PHOTO COURTESY: THE NEW YORKER