Noname "Room 25" Album Review

by Sasha Jones

 
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“One more cypher, then I'm callin' it quits,” Noname proclaimed in her 2013 song “Mary Jane Love.”

But five years later, she did anything but quit. With the release of her debut album, Room 25, Noname seems to have gotten her retribution. Questioning everyone who has ever doubted her, she asks “Y'all really thought a bitch couldn't rap huh?” in the first song, “Self,” off the album.

 
 Photo by Chantal Anderson for  The Fader

Photo by Chantal Anderson for The Fader

 

Throughout, Noname brings everything you’d expect her to and more to Room 25. Her sweet-sounding voice flows over beats that are similar to those that defined Telefone, and yet something is different.

In Room 25, Noname is more intimate with the audience. Some of her lines are familiar - she keeps “everything is everything,” a reminder Lauryn Hill’s influence on her work - but she now raps more candidly about her sexuality, her move from Chicago to L.A. and her drug-use.

 
 Photo by Chantal Anderson for  The Fader

Photo by Chantal Anderson for The Fader

 

The album, which was written while Noname was on a two year tour following the release of Telefone, shows growth. The lyrics beam with a certain confidence that was not always present in her last mixtape. With features from artists Smino, Saba, Phoelix and others, she raps about dark times and silver linings.

Room 25 is a reflection of Noname. It’s a reflection of her heart.

The headline of Rolling Stone’s review of Room 25 is “Noname Is One of the Best Rappers Alive.” Whether or not you agree, there is one thing that is certain. I’m glad Noname didn’t “call it quits” in 2013.

View her Room 25 tour dates below, and listen to the album on Soundcloud, Spotify or Apple Music:

 
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Watch a clip of Noname performing “Shadowman” from Telefone in Washington, D.C. Feb. 28, 2017: