Most familiarly known for the feature from Chance the Rapper’s “Lost” off of Acid Rap, NoName Gypsy has stuck with the crew ever since. Dropping the “Gypsy” from her name like the Couger off John Mellencamp, she appeared as just “Noname” on Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment’s “Warm Enough,” “Comfortable” with Mick Jenkins, “VRY BLK” with Jamila Woods, and most recently, “Drown,” off of Chance’s latest, Coloring Book.
Playing the introverted girl at the party who is actually really smart and sweet, Noname’s verses are more like warm hugs than they are powerful show-stopping bars. Where sentimental imagery replaces standard rap braggadocio, Noname portrays honest charm in today’s aggressive sounding rap environment.
What lacks however, is a firm presence on the mic. What she’s got going on now is fine–especially on “Warm Enough”–but what remained a concern was how she’d handle a solo project and garner our attention. She’s a nice down tempo feature, but does she have what it takes to be a great artist on her own? In short: yeah, kinda. While I love the sound direction, Telefone, her debut mixtape, is very busy up front.
She enters on the intro “Yesterday” very abruptly and suddenly just happening, and the following duet with theMIND has drums and background vocals that are very hard to groove to, seemingly displaced from where everything should be. The same disjointed skipping feeling appears on “All I Need,” and honestly most of the tape, and it’s just an odd decision. A conscious one definitely for the production of the type to sort of swing, but to me at least it often sounds completely off beat like as if the producers just refuse to put the beat where it belongs.
It’s not on every track, as the grooves on “Diddy Bop,” “Reality Check,” and “Shadow Man” connect really well, but the rest of the sound kind of detracts from Noname in its dysfunction. Sure, she doesn’t sound great on “All I Need” to begin with, but there’s decent verses on some tracks that just don’t get the light they deserve.
“Diddy Bop” is the clear stand out track. Not just because of a great Cam O’bi verse, but because the track provides room to showcase Noname and give her time to breath. She still doesn’t dominate every track, sometimes sounding like bored sad-rap dragging through the verse, but often more than not, where she still has room to learn, she still demonstrates amazing words(wo)manship.