With a smart-girl-next-door vibe and a conversational rhyme style that oozed effortlessly over jazzy grooves from her three-piece backing band, Chicago rapper Noname thoroughly charmed a packed house at the South by Southwest Music Festival welcome party on Tuesday.
Like most rappers who cut their teeth in spoken word, expressive lyricism is Noname’s forte. Her words come fast in a stream of consciousness flow, metaphors tumbling over each other as she stretches toward sing-song hooks.
On stage, she projects earnest warmth, even when the subject matter is tough.
“I’m sorry we had to go through all that sadness and vulnerability,” she said as an outro to “Casket Pretty,” a haunting meditation on the murder epidemic plaguing her city. But that sensitivity, matched by the intricate playing of her ensemble is part of her magic.
When she closed out her set with “Yesterday,” the lead track from her excellent 2016 debut “Telefone,” the entire crowd sang the hook.
Noname came into the fest with serious buzz that’s only going to get bigger as the week goes on.