Ninety-second hip-hop songs for a time felt like an anomaly in a post-Kanye age, until the rise of Soundcloud rap made the quick hit once again fashionable. Yet Noname, an independent rapper whose star has risen along with a number of other Chicago rappers like Chance the Rapper and Saba (who appears on her new album Room 25), has created a nourishing meal from a bite-sized opening snack on “Self,” the stage-setting opener for her debut album. Heavy on neo-soul grooves courtesy of producer and beatmaker Phoelix, the song immediately feels rich and soulfu. And once the verse begins, Noname gets a hell of a lot off her chest with barely a moment to take a breath: “Maybe this the album you listen to in your car when you driving home late at night / Really questioning every god, religion, Kanye, bitches.” In addressing the sometimes problematic hypermasculinity that arises in hip-hop, she offers a confident, mic-drop response. “Y’all still thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?” she says. “Maybe this your answer for that.” Now that’s a good ass intro.
From Room 25, out now.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.