Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre was a full house for the first Canadian appearance by rapper Noname. The inaugural show was an undeniable success for the female rapper as the thousand-strong crowd got behind the artist’s every turn of phrase.
Noname (Fatimah Warner) is a poet/rapper hailing from Chicago, Illinois. Coming to mainstream prominence quite recently, partly due to a major co-sign by the current golden child of hip hop (Chance the Rapper), Noname is currently on tour in support of her debut album Telefone. Her low-key vibes are complimented by intricate and wordy rhymes, cementing her as one of the more unique rap artists currently in the game.
With limited source material to work with, Noname did an excellent job in the 45 short minutes she took the stage. Backed by a talented band and three exceptional vocalists, the live act gave depth and complexity to the arrangements featured on Telefone. Playing into the popularity of her many co-signers, Noname broke out into Chance’s “Lost” and Mick Jenkins’ “Comfortable” to the delight of the audience.
It deserves mention that Noname is not your conventional, contemporary female rapper. With very little representation in the mainstream hip hop community, the few female faces that get airtime fit an aesthetic and conceptual mould that Noname seems to (directly or indirectly) reject. This niche seems to be wholly embraced and encouraged by her fans, as seen by the rather unconventional demographic for a rap concert (approximately 50% women).
Noname’s only folly surrounds her vocals, which is more of a personal preference than an objective measure—forgive me. Her pitchy vocals and nasally tone can be off-putting at times and the backup band seemed more of a necessity than an addition. The polish of Telefone is hardly replicable with the inconsistency of Noname’s vocal abilities. All of that said, perhaps it’s an endearing quality or is part of her vulnerable charm. Whatever the interpretation, it did not get in the way of the performance and certainly did not dissuade the audience from singing along at every moment.
Noname plays a number of dates throughout Canada in 2017; catch her on the road before she becomes a household name!