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Highlighting Noname: rapper, activist, book club organizer

Noname is a brilliant rapper of our time who has, unfortunately, gone under the radar for many. With a combination of powerful lyricism and chill hip-hop instrumentals, her work can be given a casual listen or an emotional deep-dive.

To get into Noname’s music, check out the albums “Telefone” and “Room 25.” She was also featured in an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which is a perfect introduction to her music.

In many of her lyrics, Noname addresses her life experiences, racism, capitalism and other related issues of identity and systemic injustices. In her single, “Rainforest,” she raps, “how you make excuses for billionaires, you broke on the bus?” These songs are often a love letter to Black America, while also serving as political protest.

Noname’s political activism extends outside of her lyrics. She is very open about her views on social media, criticizing the systems of imperialism and capitalism and offering solutions.

In a 2021 tweet, she said, “abolition isn’t singularly about destroying. It’s about building things! Free housing and schools. Free neighborhood health clinics and hospitals. Programs for community conflict resolution.”

Noname is also directly involved in building community and uplifting Black authors with the Noname Book Club. The book club has several chapters, including a Los Angeles chapter which met up recently in January.

Noname is pictured (in black, on the right) at a Los Angeles Noname Book Club meet up.
Noname is pictured (in black, on the right) at a Los Angeles Noname Book Club meet up. Photo credit: Picture courtesy of the Noname Book Club

The Noname Book Club, created and run by Noname, features two books by authors of color each month. The organization works with libraries across the U.S. to ensure that these recommended books are available to readers for free.

The Noname Book Club also sends copies of its monthly featured books to incarcerated people through the club’s Prison Program. As of this month, the program has sent over 17,000 books to people in prisons.

The club’s website explains, “our work is founded upon collective learning as a tool towards collective liberation. For us this means centering the experiences of our most marginalized community members, especially those impacted by the prison industrial complex.”

The monthly picks for February are “The Stars and Blackness Between Them,” an LGBTQ+ romance and “Of Water and The Spirit,” a spiritual book relating to African traditions.

To support and learn more about the Noname Book Club, visit nonamebooks.com.

Follow @NonameReads on Instagram to receive updates about local meet ups, donations and book recommendations.
Follow @NonameReads on Instagram to receive updates about local meet ups, donating and book recommendations. Photo credit: Picture courtesy of the Noname Book Club

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