ALBUM REVIEW: Noname Drops Her College Thesis on ‘Room 25’

Debuts don’t get better than this.

Noname is one of the best hip-hop artists today. This is not an opinion.

Following her critically acclaimed 2016 mixtape Telefone, Fatimah Warner’s debut album, Room 25, not only affirms her talent as an astute wordsmith, but further builds upon and hones her unique strengths.

One of these particular strengths is the Chicago rapper’s hypnotic, nonchalant delivery, which radiates with sage-like wisdoms and sharply-barbed observations. It’s this alluring mix of rap, spoken word and honeyed vocals that constitutes her most defining trait, both separating and elevating her from the pack.

In the same stylistic vein, Room 25 is equal parts melancholic introspection and sombre reflection, punctuated with Noname’s meditative insights on police brutality, race, politics and culture at large. Multi-instrumentalist Phoelix (who also produced Telefone) makes a return, and similarly infuses the album with his touch of neo-soul and lounge jazz – the perfect accompaniment to Noname’s characteristic flow. Guest appearances from the likes of Ravyn Lenae, Saba, Smino and Benjamin Earl Turner are all welcome additions to the album.

In more ways than one Room 25 represents Noname’s coming of age statement. She’s wiser, more experienced and slightly more raucous – all while keeping in touch with her sensitive side. One couldn’t ask for a more refined debut.

Score: 🚪🚪🚪🚪🚪/5