**Trigger warning: suggestion of self-harm in a single lyric featured below, self-harm is not the topic of the resultant analysis, however**
As you may or may not but really should know, Noname recently dropped her sophomore album, Room 25, produced by Phoelix. If you didn’t know her before, this is a second chance. Check out her first album, Telefone, which dropped back in July 2016, while you’re at it.
Room 25 was released on September 14, 2018, and is so worth the wait. From the very first track, you can tell Noname has really come into her own as an artist. She funded the entire album herself, according to her recent feature in The Fader, making it a truly independent project. In its eleven tracks Room 25 touches on institutional racism, finding oneself, police brutality, losing one’s virginity, plastic surgery, moving to LA, pain, loss, and love, to name a few.
I’m not a music analyst by any means, so I decided I’d just take a favorite line or two from each track as a sort of introduction to the album/explanation of why I like the album/incentive for y’all to listen to the album for the first time if you haven’t or again if you have. That being said, there is explicit language ahead. I have no problem with this, but others might, and y’all have been thusly warned. (Also, those were three separate chances to listen along with the album as you meander through this post. If ya want. One of those things is not like the others.)
So, in order then, and with the help of mine own ears plus Genius.com:
Nah, actually, this is for me
I appreciate the honesty and I respect the reason.
And y’all still thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?
I do not understand how folks who have heard Noname could diss her. Quit calling her the female version of rappers. I’m not even sure I could begin to fully articulate the disrespect in that. Stop it.
maybe I’m an insomni-Black
As someone who feels tired far, far too often, this resonates.
“Do you hear me, man? Do you understand? I am Black. I’m a nigga, do you understand me? I was born Black, I live Black, and I’ma die, probably because I’m Black, because some cracka that knows I’m Black better than you, nigga, is probably gonna put a bullet in the back of my head.”
According to an annotation on Genius, this is a line from a 1973 crime-drama film called “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” According to the associated IMBD Quotes page, this line is spoken by the character Pretty Willie.
Prayer Song ft Adam Ness
I was lost, but thinking I was truly free / Darkness lingers in the wake of slavery
This is actually from the chorus, sung by Adam Ness. This one felt relatable in particular because I think there are so many times throughout life when you think you know everything, or you’re as ‘woke’ as you can be, only to realize how very wrong you were. Moments, realizations like that are how you know you’re growing. That there is darkness lingering in the wake of slavery is an obvious understatement, and yet, especially in the current political climate, it feels necessary to state it.
Window ft. Phoelix
You want a nasty bitch psychiatrist that cook like ya mama / And all you got was me, me, me
All I know is I see a lot of social media posts bemoaning straight cis men who look to their romantic partners to be some kind of all-in-wonder woman without reciprocating much, if any, of the emotional/spiritual/mental/physical/financial/parental labor.
Don’t Forget About Me
the secret is I’m actually broken
This reminds me of all the times I was bone-crushingly depressed, yet somehow still managed to say things that genuinely made my friends laugh.
I know everyone goes someday / I know my body’s fragile, know it’s made from clay / But if I have to go I pray my soul is still eternal / And my mama don’t forget about me / I pray my mama don’t forget about me / I pray my granny don’t forget about me / … / I pray my daddy don’t forget about me
I combined both hooks to include all family members mentioned and because it’s an important message which speaks to a justifiable paranoia felt deeply in Black communities. If I go before my time for any reason, even though it’s horrible to consider, I hope my family don’t forget about me.
I swear I look so regal, I swear I look so regal
Every time I hear this I think about the inherent regality in Blackness.
Montego Bae ft Ravyn Lenae
Reading Toni Morrison in a nigga canoe / ‘Cause a bitch really ’bout her freedom
I love the imagery this evokes in my mind. I need to read more Toni Morrison.
The majority of my favorite lines from this track could arguably be considered vulgar by someone with a different perspective from mine, but as the following line states…
And yes and yes, I’m problematic too
Ace ft Smino and Saba
I’m just writing my darkest secrets like wait and just hear me out
Again, love the honesty.
Part of Me ft Benjamin Earl Turner and Phoelix
Now birthdays and funerals will only bring the family out
Flashes of barbeques with family members I didn’t otherwise see. Foot races with the cousins before we became ne’erdowells and worse. Being small at family reunions and winning a dish set I wouldn’t be able to appreciate for another year and a half during some trivia game. The line doesn’t have to be the reality, but it can too often feel that way with age.
Wrist like an Etch-a-Sketch, I’m sculptin’ the pain in ’em like Edmonia Lewis
This line belongs to Benjamin Earl Turner on verse two. I can definitely get down with a song that teaches me something new. I urge you to do your own digging into Edmonia Lewis. I’m not typically moved by stone art, but I’m not surprised that she’s the sculptress to move me.
Gave you a taste of my redemption, now I want my drink back
“You may share my energy, you may not take it,” type vibes.
No Name ft Adam Ness and Yaw
Only worldly possession I have is life
Nothin’ but a word. Born with nothing, but love, hopefully. Die with nothing. But love. Hopefully.
There were a lot of other contenders for favorite lines that might’ve made this post. I tried to trim the fat a little, but it’s all good stuff, and you should check it out for yourself. Then after ya do, drop me a comment and let me know some of your favorite parts, be they lyrical or instrumental or whatever.
Peace, love, and fluffy blankets.
(Words in italics are credited to the artists named. Not trying to lay claim to any one’s work but mine.)