KOKO, a converted theatre with 4 balconies and red curtains, suited the theatrical monologue-esque bars that were to be spat within its walls on the evening of the 28th of August. Sampa the Great began the night with enough energy to power her own amps. Her refreshing raps, paired with a cover of Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ were the perfect thing to warm up the venue, KOKO, before the appearance of Noname.
Fresh from performing at Reading/Leeds festival, Fatimah Warner, aka Noname, opened with a new track from her twitter-announced, upcoming album, Room 25. The crowd, riled up with the audience-participation led by Fatimah, ate out of the rapper’s hands for the rest of the set. There was a feeling of light-heartedness from the performer with silliness and giggling that contrasted her poetic lyrics surrounding her childhood in a deprived area of Chicago and an abortion. She even took pleasure in announcing “I may be like mother Theresa, but I still suck dick”.
With beats so sweet they may as well be sprinkled with icing sugar, Noname took us on a journey through her debut album, Telefone, featuring tracks such as ‘Diddy Bop’ and ‘Reality Check’. Since discovering Telefone, Noname has, personally, challenged my assumptions of what a rapper should look like and rap about with lyrics so heart-warming you will return to them in times of need of reassurance.
Fatima’s lyrics hold a truth that is incomparable and this is held accountable to her route to rap through poetry. During her teen years she began performing at slam poetry events and went on to come third in the annual Louder Than A Bomb poetry competition in Chicago, where she was born. She stepped into the limelight in 2013 when she featured on fellow Chicago-born artist, Chance the Rapper’s track, ‘Lost’, followed the year after by verses on some of Mick Jenkins’ tracks. It’s the kind of rap you could listen to with your parents; Noname effortlessly made wholesome cool when she used her lyrics as a confession of mistreating drugs and money instead of the common egotistical brag that can be found in the bars of many mainstream rappers; “noname off the drug, noname quit the weed” or “I know, the money don’t really make me whole”.
Fitting with the rest of her lyrical honesty she announced that she was about to go off stage for a minute, but to save all the screaming and shouting, there was going to be an encore. She was out of view for all of 30 seconds but the crowd screamed anyway. A warm thank you to Fatimah and her band whose energy took the weight off my tired feet; a thoroughly enjoyable gig.