SXSW 2017: Noname shines in the sun at SXSW 2017

Noname shines in the sun at SXSW 2017

Stars this bright don’t come along very often; get on board before she’s selling out thousand-strong arenas in a heartbeat.

Overlooking Austin’s jaggedy skyline, in the grounds of the oldest house in the city, Noname’s set proves one of those elusive magical eureka moments from a massive star in the making. A few years back, the Chicagoan made her name with a feature on Chance the Rapper’s breakthrough ‘Acid Rap’, and in the three years since, she knuckled down, and took time to craft her own game-changing first release, too. ‘Telefone’ – her jazz-inflected slab of richly woven melodic patterns, quick-smart, personally charged writing, and meter-swerving delivery – proved the best mixtape of last year by a mile, and live, it’s an even more dynamic prospect.  

Backed by a tighter-than-tetris live band, Noname swerves through ‘Telefone’s reappearing snippets of hold music chimes, and snappy tubular licks, nailing every single bar with the kind of effortless precision that few artists can ever hope to possess. Painting her Bronzeville childhood in vivid, saturated colours, celebrating black culture, getting deep into emotional darkness, and laying out her ambitions as an artist - “the dreams of granny in mansion and happy/ the little things I need to save my soul – Fatimah Warner’s background in slam poetry is crystal clear; every line bursts with interlinking details and painstaking artistry. Stars this bright don’t come along very often; get on board before she’s selling out thousand-strong arenas in a heartbeat.

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Photos: Emma Swann