You can bitch about it all you want but you got to admit it, over the last few years Chicago has been taking over the rap game. Various artists from Chance the Rapper to Vic Mensa have been coming out and creating major success for themselves through rap as well as new forms of neo-soul that people can’t help but enjoy. One of Chicago’s who’s been consistently featured by many emcees did just that by finally dropping her debut project Telefone. Noname established herself with her use of vivid imagery and wordplay that was so sharp that she immediately built a fanbase of her own, dying to hear a long awaited solo project. With this solo debut, Noname uses this same method to grab listeners and takes her sound to a whole new level, relating stories of growing up in Chicago and ultimately, longing for more than what’s around her.
I was initially disappointed to find out there was only 10 tracks on this tape but it didn’t take long to realize that ten tracks was more than enough. The opening track “Yesterday” sets up the tape perfectly where Noname introduces the project talking of her newfound fame, and money. What makes this track so especially touching is that while she acknowledges that these things are nice, she’s aware that these things mean nothing when it comes to who she is as a person. She also uses this song to reminisce on Mike Hawkins, a friend of hers who was a mentor, poet and educator who inspired many of Chicago’s youth to get into music.
This mixtape also has some notable features such as TheMIND’s uplifting verse on the track “Sunny Duet” and Eryn Allen Kane’s beautiful hook on “Reality Check”, one of the most uplifting and positive songs on the tape. Something that makes her stand out from a lot of other artists is the extreme levels of candor; unafraid to be personal and honest in her verses, the EP is sure to draw fans looking for more than a tape full of bangers or boastful rhymes.
Literally one week left. Im hella nervous. This tape isn't perfect but its honest. #Telefone 7 days away
— Noname (@noname) July 24, 2016
Within the ten tracks, Noname paints beautiful stories of a girl growing up in the Windy City who yearns for more than the ennui she encounters on a daily basis both physically, mentally and spiritually. Her ability to paint vivid pictures through her rhymes are incredible and unique to the point that fans can relate to her stories because they want the same thing; a sense of stability, love, and spiritual satisfaction. She also speaks on issues pertaining to police and street violence in the track “Casket Pretty” a track that has the most memorable hook on the project where she hopes to God that she doesn’t have to receive a phone call from someone telling her about the death of a loved one.
“All of my niggas is casket pretty/ Ain’t no one safe in this happy city/ I hope you make it home/ I hope to God that my tele don’t ring”
“Badges and Pistols rejoice in the night/ And we watch the news and we see him die/ Tonight tonight the night the night his baby said goodbye/ Roses in the road Teddy bear outside”
Right now, Chicago is turbulent and residents are living in a time where violence is dangerously close to routine. Noname speaking on this issue in a very somber way adds to the story of a girl who is sick and tired of all that she has to endure within her surroundings. The album closes on a happier note with “Shadow Man” which has a very soulful verse from Saba who delivers one of the best features on the project with bars that touch on taking those he loves for granted who have passed away while Smino follows up with light-hearted rhymes of appreciating those you love and playing Metro Boomin at his funeral. “Shadow Man” wraps up the tape well because while it does end things on a positive note, it let’s us know that at the end of the day everything’s going to be okay. It took three agonizing years for us to finally hear this project and all that can be said is that it was worth the wait.
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