new year excellence! noname drops “song 31”

January 2, 2019
108 Picks

One good way to follow-up all your year-end plaudits is to release a brand new track on the first of the next month, a song that instantly reasserts what all the feels were about in the first place, as if to say, “the party’s not over.” Which is exactly what Chicago native, Noname did yesterday, when she dropped “Song 31,” a fast-casual brain-bomb, that has Phoelix on the co-production and the chorus.

Except that in the case of the MC, born Fatimah Nyeema Warner, the “party” is more like a set of rhymes that continues to exhibit an incredible poetic talent, trying to work through her life with strength, humor and ethics in tact, even as the checks get bigger. “Song 31” piles on the proof that Noname’s exquisite lyricism follows the griot tradition, fearlessly and flawlessly mixing her own narrative with that of the headlines and the wisdom of the community. In but one example towards the end of the second verse, holiday-themed bars move from Santa’s commercialism to an incarcerated relative as a ghost at Christmas dinner, with abstraction and ease — almost absent-mindedly, but of course, mindful to the syllable.

“Song 31” is another puzzle presented with no grandstanding, more clearly defining who she’s not, while slowly and surely discovering what “Who am I?” just might mean. All the while, Phoelix’s off-kilter, non-quantized drums woozily reaffirm the truth of her vision.