Meet Princess Nokia: tomboy, misfit, feminist, anti-conformist, ‘bruja’

Our new Very Best Friend: The Afro-Puerto Rican New Yorker is making waves in the world of alt-pop and hip-hop with her riot grrrl outlook and punk-rock sensibility

Princess Nokia: She’s our new VBF because she’s fascinating, deeply imaginative, radical, witty, wise and observant.  Photograph: Rough Trade

Princess Nokia: She’s our new VBF because she’s fascinating, deeply imaginative, radical, witty, wise and observant. Photograph: Rough Trade

 

“I’m that Black a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba/ And my people come from Africa diaspora, Cuba/ And you mix that Arawak, that original people/ I’m that Black Native American, I vanquish all evil.”

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Princess Nokia. If the introduction from her song Brujas isn’t quite clear enough, Princess Nokia is Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, a rapper, producer and singer of Afro-Puerto Rican descent from New York City who’s making waves in the alt-pop and hip-hop worlds, and it’s not just because one of her aliases is Wavy Spice.

Frasqueri released her debut album, 1992 – the year she was born – last year through Rough Trade Records and, to celebrate its deluxe release on CD (remember those?) and on vinyl this week, we’re nominating her our new VBF. Why? Because she’s fascinating, deeply imaginative, radical, witty, wise and observant.

She’s a 1990s kid to the core, and 1992 opens with Bart Simpson. “Ay caramba, man, you can go and suck my dick/Skating down the street, being mischievous as shit,” she spits. Mixing up different cultural influences, from Kriss Kross to Rob Zombie and Marvel Comics to Nickelodeon TV, she’s the epitome of all those kids you see on Instagram and admire because they’re so confident and comfortable in the exploration of their identity.

And how does she identify? As a tomboy. As a misfit. As a queer woman. As a bruja (that’s Spanish for witch). As a feminist. As a proud Puerto Rican New Yorker. As someone who speaks up for others and speaks up for herself. With a riot grrrl outlook and a punk-rock sensibility, she insists that women get the front row spots at her gigs so they can give in to the music and express themselves however they like without guys invading their space.

By creating a safe space for people of colour, women and LGBTQ+ at her gigs, she’s following through with what she says on record and on paper. There’s no airs and certainly no notions with this one.

She’s upfront in her discussion about race and gender. On Mine, she celebrates the politics of hair and the fascination that white people have with weaves, afros and cornrows. “It’s mine, I bought it,” she repeats. “Please do not ask me or any Black or Brown women if our hair is real or not/ If it’s a wig, a weave, extensions, braids, don’t fuckin ask/ It’s very rude, it’s extremely personal to be put on the spot like that.”

Ever the anti-conformist, Princess Nokia doesn’t hold back in her music and her actions. Uplifting and raw, 1992 is an unapologetic education for those who need it and a celebration for those who’ve been singing from the same hymn sheet. Princess Nokia delivers a dose of realness that’s so sorely needed.

Long may she reign.

This week we’re de-friending . . . Maroon 5

Maroon 5. Shouldn’t have chosen the red pill. Photograph: iHeartRadio
Maroon 5. Shouldn’t have chosen the red pill. Photograph: iHeartRadio

Well, we’re putting them on mute at least for a while. God love Maroon 5. Blissfully unaware of the anti-feminist men’s rights activist connotations with the title of their new album, Red Pill Blues, the band have had to backtrack. “We had no idea about the association with men’s rights,” guitarist James Valentine told the Huffington Post. “Hopefully, everyone knows from all of our pasts, that from our statements on the issue and our actions in the past, that we are all hardcore feminists in the band. So that’s a horrible association, ugh, to have. The internet trolls have to ruin everything.”

Here’s a tip. Before you decide on an album title, a quick Google will save you some grief.

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