Noname is a 25-year-old rapper from Chicago, but beyond these descriptors she cannot be categorized.
“I try to exist without binding myself to labels,” she told Fader in an interview. “For me, not having a name expands my creativity. I’m able to do anything.” And true to her word, Noname refuses to define herself based on pre-existing labels, forging her own path as an independent artist with an unconventional musical style. In her debut album, Telefone, Noname combines precise rhymes with melodic, airy instrumentals and proves that she is an entity in the rap genre like no other.
Raised in the South Side of Chicago, Noname (born Fatimah Warner) first ventured into music and spoken-word poetry when she was in high school. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, she describes her teenage self as “awkward and not really able to find a niche for what I wanted to do.” Looking for an outlet for self-expression, Noname stumbled onto Def Jam Poetry videos online and was instantly hooked. She soon joined Young Chicago Authors and YOUmedia, creative-arts programs that facilitate writing workshops and open-mic opportunities for Chicago’s youth.
Exploring the crossover between live poetry and hip-hop, Noname cultivated her own rapping style and connected with other teens attending local open mic events. One of these friends — Chance the Rapper — would eventually feature Noname on a song from his 2013 Acid Rap mixtape. On the track, “Lost,” Noname showcases her bright, calming flow while spitting masochistic lines like “Fuck me into open caskets / I wanna die like this.”
At the time, this was Noname’s only musical release, and as listeners…
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