SXSW Music Review: Princess Nokia

Breakout rapper reps an entire matriarchy

Destiny Frasqueri is unapologetically angry, fragile, confident. The 25-year-old New York rapper embraces it all and invites everyone to ride the wave with her. Myself and the rest of a squished Clive Bar on Rainey Street Thursday night joined the catharsis, jumping to every rhyme, beat, and prophecy.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Decked out in Nineties gear – tie-dyed “All That” tee, low-rise jeans, neon orange beanie, and clout goggles – she sprang onto the stage with “Brujas” off 2016 EP 1992. A blend of ripply, infectious beats made to empower, the rap touched off crowd waves of future self-actualization.

“Don’t you fuck with my energy,” spit Nokia.

“Kitana” from the same EP followed, a staunch anthem on being a bad bitch, a message amplified by its pulsating rhythms and urgent claps.

“Mortal Kombat, I’ll see you mañana,” warned the MC walking into a sea of waving arms.

The star performed most hits from last year’s full-length studio debut 1992 Deluxe. Aside from contagious beats and smart lyrics, her appeal to young women remains an ability to be an entire matriarchy all in one. She’s your sister, auntie, mom, and friend, switching roles so flawlessly you don’t notice until you take a minute to catch her words.

After 40 minutes, she encored off with 2016 single “Orange Blossom,” a silky R&B ballad she sang in a honeyed falsetto pacing across the stage and pausing to sing with the crowd.

“Thank you to all these beautiful women in attendance,” she said before walking offstage, my heart in the palm of her hand.

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Princess Nokia, SXSW Music 2018, Destiny Frasqueri

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