By: Cormac Riordan, Staff Writer
Although it’s Princess Nokia’s first mixtape, 1992 Deluxe is not the first mixtape by Destiny Frasqueri. She began rapping in 2010 as Wavy Spice when she was 18. She released two mixtapes before changing her name to Princess Nokia (after the “Obama Phone” she received through welfare, a Nokia) in 2014 and released a series of singles before putting out the EP 1992. Nokia has been praised for the feminist and LGBT themes in her music, which come through strong on 1992 Deluxe. She is also no stranger to controversy, having gotten into a fight with a man in the crowd of her show at Cambridge in early 2017. Reportedly, he yelled obscenities at her before she slapped him and threw her drink at him. She then declared to the audience “that’s what you do when a white boy disrespects you.”
It’s fairly apparent from that quote why we need artists like Princess Nokia in the current music scene. Rappers have never been afraid to voice their opinions about the world they see, and it’s always good to hear social commentary come from a young multiracial woman. She clues her audiences in to worlds otherwise unseen by her fans who all come from different backgrounds. She makes her point succinctly and powerfully in songs like Mine, where she raps “I lie a lot from getting beaten and put off food, I’m not eating/Eczema so bad I’m bleeding, but I smile and keep it cheesing/A nerdy girl with nymphomaniac tendencies/Everyone’s offended but nobody here offended me.” She creates a powerful image of herself out of being humble and real, she’s a role model that’s not afraid to make mistakes.
Tomboy, the second song on 1992 Deluxe, opens with a beat that builds by overlaying sounds, starting with a drumbeat, then a whistle, then a motorcycle revving, and finally a series of snaps. Then the first verse begins, with a line that will repeat in the chorus and plenty of brags and a comparison to Missy Elliot, all before ending with a sample from blues clues and going into the chorus. A repetition of the line “my little titties and my phat belly” and, later, “that girl is a tomboy” make up the bulk of it. While it may seem easy to write this off as a “typical” SoundCloud trap song, it’s far beyond most of the genre, even coming from a fan of the sound. Nokia has distinct influences from some rappers that classic Hip-Hop fans drool over, such as Biggie Smalls and Big L. But she is not above trap influences as well, creating a more unique sound than a rapper who is dedicated too much to the past. Her melding of the old and new, the classic and the current, is what makes Nokia such an exciting new talent on the field of current Hip-Hop.
Take, for example, her song ABCs of New York. She raps, “Sitting on the steps outside the Natural History/New York fucking City and I love the history/Everything a melting pot/Every block is fucking hot/83rd the train stop.” Compare this to any classic New York Hip-Hop song and the similarities are numerous. She is distinctly her own, however, and shows this in the song Brujas, all about her Puerto Rican and Yoruban ancestry. “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” she raps in the second verse on the track. She is uniquely herself, and not afraid of what may come from that.
1992 Deluxe is an important mixtape in a time of important Hip-Hop, making it possible for something like this to slip through the cracks. I implore you to not let that happen, to listen to and treasure this tape, and to spread it to the rap fans you know. It’s a powerful collection of songs that can be enjoyed both as party songs and ones that have significance to social issues, which is something we all really all we want out of a Hip-Hop project.