Photo: Chantal Anderson
The world is on fire, but Chicago artist, rapper, and poet Noname does not want you to look away. Rather, in her latest succinct yet impactful track, she urges you to refocus on the ongoing tragedies occurring throughout the US.
Produced by Madlib, "Song 33" arrives hot on the heels of J. Cole's "Snow On Tha Bluff," in which many believed the song's line "But shit / it's something about the queen tone that's bothering me" was targeted at Noname. Some fans took issue with the sentiment, including Chance the Rapper who stated on Twitter, "They both my peoples but only one of them put out a whole song talking about how the other needs to reconsider their tone and attitude in order to save the world. It's not constructive and undermines all the work Noname has done. It's not BWs job to spoon feed us. We grown."
Rather than spend the track's entirety taking direct aim at J. Cole, Noname embodies an ineffable torrent of rage, sorrow, and the promise of revolution, all in the span of one minute and 19 seconds. And in spite of the range of Noname's rapidfire vision, at no point does she feel ever feel scattered.
"Why Toyin body don't embody all the life she wanted? / a baby just nineteen" ponders Noname, only to stoke the flames of revolutions a moment later, "They talkin’ abolishin’ the police / And this the new world order/ We democratizin’ Amazon, we burn down borders / This the new vanguard."
The passing breath she does seem lend to J. Cole's previously-stated sentiments only seeks to refocus the conversation at hand. "He really ‘bout to write about me when the world is in smokes / When it’s people in trees? / When George was beggin’ for his mother saying he couldn’t breathe / You thought to write about me?," questions Noname.
As Noname makes her way through her trademark poetic flow, she touches on the ongoing instances of black men found hanged in trees and the tragic murder of George Floyd and Oluwatoyin Salau. "Song 33" is not a diss track; it is a call to arms.
Listen to "Song 33" below: