-Noname finally releases her debut project.

(From my review of Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” earlier this year:

P.S.- Can Noname Gypsy put out a mixtape or something? She’s killed every feature she’s gotten.)

It’s almost become tradition for Noname (formerly known as Noname Gypsy) to show up on Chance the Rapper projects and deliver a great verse. Ever since I first heard her back in 2013 on “Lost,” off of “Acid Rap,” I’ve been dying to hear a full length project from her because every verse I’ve heard her spit has been incredibly poetic, unique, and gentle. And I’m thrilled to say that “Telefone” is everything I ever wanted from her.

To get the dreaded comparisons out of the way early, “Telefone” falls in line Chance the Rapper’s sound and the scene that he’s spearheaded in Chicago. The complete opposite of the infamous drill scene. The sounds are soulful and aqueous, there’s lots of fingersnaps and chorus vocals, lots of singing, lyrics about youth and growing up in a crime ridden area, lots of positivity, and there’s a gospel undercurrent running through most of these songs. But don’t mistake this for piggybacking off of Chance’s sound. This tape is far gentler and quieter, due to the vocalists rapping and singing very softly, and the beats being comprised of these soulful piano passages and light drums. It’s a comforting, warm blanket of a sound that even without Noname would still take me back to being a little kid, bright eyed, running around my neighborhood with no worries except getting home before dark. (Which is the topic of the song “Diddy Bop,” which has a hook that is so childlike and innocent, it’s beautiful.)

Now, there are moments where Noname gets far more serious than that. “Casket Pretty,” speaks on her worrying about family getting home safe in the city and hoping her phone doesn’t ring, and “Bye Bye Baby” talks about her getting an abortion, rapping from both her and the baby’s perspective. The real feat of this tape is that it makes these heavy topics still comforting and enjoyable, through the heavenly production and Noname’s gentle delivery and optimism. The baby is dead, but it’s going to see ‘The King.’ It’s bittersweet, like the best memories.

 

“Telefone” is one of the best things I’ve heard all year. Top to bottom, it’s nearly perfect. Great production, incredible lyricism and unique delivery, emotionally powerful, there’s great hooks abound, and it’s short and sweet. At 33 minutes it leaves quite an impact without ever overstaying its welcome, and that’s the mark of a great project.

4.5 stars

Standout Tracks: “Yesterday” “Diddy Bop” “Forever” “Bye Bye Baby”

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