The Chicago emcee Noname says that she writes lullaby raps, but maybe that’s a Midwest-humble way of saying that her music is deadly, just at a lower volume. Her first album, Telefone, played like a summer afternoon hanging out with your best friend; on Room 25, her recently-released follow up album, much of the sound has stayed consistent, but the tone is more grim and sharply political in parts.
Noname avoids digging too deep into politics, largely through her skill as an orator, but she’s also helped by the distinctive instrumentation of her band, which relies on R&B chords, wandering keyboard lines and introspective melodies. It’s not groundbreaking, but it is a different sound than the highly produced hip hop that dominates the genre. It’s extremely easy to go adrift with Noname as she follows her own trains of thought, and it’s wonderful, too.