My blog is my space to highlight academic work outside of my formal publications. Posts vary from short essays to album reviews to exemplary student work to small sample-digs that I use as warm-ups for my courses. This blog also contains the burgeoning archive of artist interviews that I am collecting for my dissertation, "Writing in the Break."

  • Tyler Bunzey

New Music Friday: Noname's "Room 25"

Noname released her first studio album Room 25 on September 14th. The Chicago rapper's follow up to her 2016 mixtape Telefone jazzes up the contemporary hip-hop scene, and she firmly establishes her work as a dope emcee and musician apart from Chance the Rapper's stylistic phenomenon in 2016.

Take a listen:

What my students think:

My students were a bit ambivalent about Noname's new release. Most of the students liked her work. They found it mellow and said that it had a good vibe. A few that were more into poetry really dug her style--they loved the lyrical poetics smoothly flowing out of her tracks. Some students really enjoyed that her music was unconventional in terms of hip-hop--the drums were less prominent and her flow was uneven in an enjoyable way.

While her style appealed to many folks, a few were offset by it. One student felt that it was too plain and got to be a little bit boring, especially musically. One student didn't like jazz and thus didn't like the general aesthetic. A few felt like while it was enjoyable, it sounded more like elevator music.

What I think:

I really love Noname's new work. The way she uses her voice is unconventional; instead of using it as a percussive instrument to complicate the rhythmic flow of the drums, she loops a jazz aesthetic in the background and plays the jazz piano with her voice, running out of the melody and back in periodically. Her work is really mellow, and it has a great vibe. I almost lament that it does have a bit of a background music vibe--coffee shop hip-hop if you will--because her lyrical prowess is astounding. She says that we didn't think a bitch could rap. This album proves that she most definitely can!

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