San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Noname concludes her ‘Room 25’ tour in San Diego

Michael Abshear
Rapper Noname performed at the Observatory in San Diego on March 16.

Chicago rapper Noname concluded her “Room 25” tour at the Observatory in San Diego on March 16, showcasing her ability to create a community with her conversational songs and approachable stage presence.

“Room 25,” Noname’s second full-length project and an excellent follow-up to her equally great 2016 mixtape “Telefone,” was released in September 2018. On the album, she provides a moving coming-of-age portrait of the years since her first release, including the navigation of an impactful, though short-lived, relationship.

She first gained prominence when she appeared on Chance the Rapper’s beloved breakthrough mixtape “Acid Rap,” providing a gorgeous verse on the track “Lost.” Once kindred spirits who provided warm vulnerability through detailed storytelling, Chance’s emotional complexity chipped away a bit on his last release, 2016’s “Coloring Book.” Meanwhile, Noname has only explored deeper, with her bars only becoming more succinct, poignant and clever.

It’s no surprise that the Observatory crowd was largely women, who likely relate to Noname’s distinctly feminine tales of love, loss and self-discovery.

She opened the show with “Self,” a highlight on “Room 25” which displays both her wit and humor. “My p—y taught ninth grade English / My p—y wrote a thesis on colonialism,” goes one of the best couplets, and elsewhere on the track she questions “Y’all really thought a b—h couldn’t rap, huh? / Maybe this your answer for that,” through an audible smirk.

Many Noname songs feel like brief, intimate streams of consciousness — “Self” clocks in at just over a minute and a half. She provides details but never over-explains, offering quick bursts of her vibrant world.

Next up was “Blaxploitation,” on which Noname’s warm, comforting voice permeated the room the way it does on record. Over thick bass, she explores black stereotypes in pop culture with a soft, fast-paced flow: “Keep the hot sauce in her purse and she be real, real blacky / Just like a Hillary Clinton, who masqueraded the system,” she raps, referencing Clinton’s 2016 appearance on hip-hop radio show The Breakfast Club.

She then went back to “Telefone” with a performance of “Diddy Bop,” one of the sweetest tracks in her catalog, which is an ode to her childhood in Chicago. A favorite among Noname fans, the crowd rapped and danced along to her recollections of her neighborhood.

Periodically, she would pause throughout the night to express her gratitude and disbelief that the tour was ending, speaking to the crowd candidly and comfortably. Her affinity for conversation in her raps translated into her onstage banter.

Other standouts of the show included “Room 25’s” “Regal,” which had the audience shouting the empowering hook, “I swear I look so regal,” the funky, lovestruck “Montego Bae” and her latest single, the reflective “Song 31.”

“I sell pain for profit, and I feel prophet watchin,’” goes one bar on “Song 31.” “Everything is for everything, rhymin’ with causality.”

Near the end of the set, Noname performed two of her most beautiful songs back-to-back. First was “Room 25’s” “Don’t Forget About Me,” a moving meditation on mortality and legacy. “I know everybody goes someday / I know my body’s fragile, know it’s made from clay,” she muses on the hook. “But if I have to go, I pray my soul is still eternal / And my mama don’t forget about me.”

She juxtaposed that track with a performance of “Forever” off “Telefone,” a life-affirming song in the face of opposition. “They ain’t try’na see us shine, shine / Bullet on my time, time / But f–k it, we’ll live forever,” she raps the quotable refrain on the chorus.

Life and death find themselves in Noname’s music in various ways, and placing these two tracks side-by-side in her setlist shows their prominence in her consciousness, both resonant with the young crowd questioning their own purpose. Thoughts come and go, but to Noname, all are just valid as another, and in relating them to others she finds her community.

About the Contributor
Julianna Ress, Arts & Culture Editor
Julianna Ress is the Arts & Culture editor of The Daily Aztec. She is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in television, film and new media, and her writing has appeared in The Ringer, E! News and local publications. She was awarded "Best Arts & Entertainment Story" at the 2018 California College Media Awards for her piece, "Revisiting my hometown through 'Lady Bird.'" Follow her on Twitter @juliannaress or email her at
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Noname concludes her ‘Room 25’ tour in San Diego