Noname’s Jan. 16 Atlanta concert showcased her ability to break down barriers between her and the crowd, while expressing a soothing poetic rap.
Chicago native Fatima Nyeema Warner began her career by performing slam poetry and rap under the stage name Noname Gypsy. Today, we know her as Noname. During her recent stop in Atlanta for her “Room 25” tour, Noname’s live renditions imbued her tracks with a light and fresh energy.
Noname has gained significant attention and high acclaim in recent years after the release of her debut mixtape “Telefone” and her debut album “Room 25.” The venue was completely filled before the show started, indicating the growth of her fanbase since the release of “Room 25.”
The crowd erupted in cheers of anticipation as the simple set design, with the letters “Room 25,” began to flicker softly in red. Noname stood on stage, gleeful yet a little reserved, and jumped right into her set with “Self,” a short interlude that introduces the album and the motivations behind it.
“Maybe this the album you listen to in your car when you driving home late at night,” Noname rapped in a mellow tone.
A trio of background vocalists provided a warm harmony that complemented Noname’s seamless flow. She had a fairly modest stage presence as she simply performed her songs without any added theatrics, and her fans maintained buoyant energy by rapping the lyrics with great gusto.
Noname appealed to old fans by throwing in a few tracks from 2016’s “Telefone,” with songs like “Forever,” “Diddy Bop” and the crowd-favorite, “Shadow Man.” However, the audience was most dialed up when she performed tracks from “Room 25.” Although the audience had the potential to be rowdy, Noname’s soothing vocals created a relaxed environment. Most of her lyricism is contemplative and raw, but the rapper shifted the mood with a few light-hearted songs like “Montego Bae,” which has more playful lyrics.
Noname also performed her newly released single, “Song 31,” which came out two weeks prior. She warned the audience that she might trip over a few verses because she had only performed the song live a few times, but the crowd remained enthusiastic. Moments like this exemplified Noname’s boldness and authenticity. She restarted the song a few times, but the crowd continuously cheered her on while the background vocalists added gospel-like runs and riffs between verses. A variety of vocals, harmonic styles and jazz instrumentals made for a continuously engaging set.
Prior to Noname’s performance, another Chicago native, Elton Aura, performed most of the tracks from his latest EP “Elevated,” including “Midas Touch,” “Callin’’ and “Rewind.” His high energy and stage presence had the crowd swaying to his neo-soul ballads. His songs reflected a variety of genres, with him rapping intermittently and then crooning out the choruses. His commentary between songs also provided concert-goers with a little more background on the development of and inspirations for his latest project.
The two artists’ style of rap complemented each other well, since Elton Aura performed with an intensity that energized the crowd. Then, Noname’s performance softened the audience. Noname’s style is sometimes described as “lullaby rap” because her verses intermittently feel like spoken word over slightly muted instrumentals. Her voice and lyrics made for an almost spiritual experience as she mellowed out the crowd and dove into her introspective lyricism. As she rapped about growing up in a religious household and the complexities of being black in the United States, she reflected on how those core aspects of her identity impact her trajectory as an artist.
Noname’s humble stage presence and kind vocals made for a comforting concert experience. Her ability to cover delicate topics while maintaining the same energy she exhibited when she rapped about lighter ones allowed for a bit of self-reflection that wasn’t daunting, but therapeutic. This level of intimacy is hard to attain when going to a concert venue as big as the Masquerade, but Noname successfully did so and left the adoring crowd wishing for a longer set.