Hearing Tomboy by Princess Nokia for the first time stopped us dead in our tracks. Such a compelling blast of righteousness, its enflamed voice demanding who the hell are you to be deciding what a strong woman with a mind of her own should be presenting herself like. Princess Nokia is known to her mum as Destiny Frasqueri. She identifies as Afro-Nuyorican and is already a veteran of NY’s underground hiphop scene at the age of 24.
Transfixed by Tomboy, we delved into her 1992 album and it was suddenly on repeat. So forthright and urgent, compelling like early Public Enemy. The way she tells it: “I’m making worldly music—music that will talk to all kinds of people. Banjee girls in Harlem, teen brides in the Middle East, gay boys in East Asia. Labels no longer matter. My new music is cosmic and three-dimensional, and it will really speak of who Princess Nokia is. Princess Nokia is sound. It is progression. It is all that I am.”
Pride in your own identity. And respect for everyone else’s too. As Pitchfork described, “On “Brujas,” (she) explores her own diasporic roots over a thumping jungle-inflected beat. “I’m that Blackorican bruja/Straight out from the Yoruba/And my people come from Africa-diaspora Cuba,” Frasqueri raps breathlessly and authoritatively, throwing a listener into her deep-rooted family tree. The production by Blanco and DJ Bass Bear pulsates, bounces, and brightens Frasqueri’s flow, making the song a party anthem as well.”
Word about Princess Nokia is spreading fast and recent live shows have set Europe alight. At time of writing, her Brujas video is heading for half a million views 3 weeks since posting. She’s going to be big and she should be – in these dark days, she brings the messages we need to hear more of.