Destiny Frasqueri, AKA Princess Nokia, is a 24-year- old New York-born rapper, singer and feminist. She enters 2017 loudly, with a wildly successful debut EP, a European tour (big guns with just one release), and the mandate to represent on behalf of strong females everywhere.
With nerve, style and heavy rhymes evocative of greats like Lil’ Kim, Biggie and Aaliyah, she has been hailed ‘hip-hop gold’ and ‘queen of the NYC underground scene’ – heavy praise indeed.
Frasqueri grew up between Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side of New York and began hosting parties at the age of just 16. Her musical debut came a little later under the pseudonym ‘Wavy Spice’. Early networking tools such as Soundcloud, YouTuve and Myspace grew her fanbase and marked out her intent.
She describes the music evolution from Wavy to Nokia clearly to Bullett: “I’m making worldly music that will talk to all kinds of people: Banjee girls in Harlem, teen brides in the Middle East, gay boys in East Asia. Labels no longer matter. My new music is cosmic and three dimensional”. A 16 minute documentary by The Fader sees her share her thoughts on how New York city and challenges in her early life has shaped her – fans are left in no doubt from the off that they are looking at a genuine, unmanufactured artist.
2016 was a stand out year for Frasqueri. Her mixtape ‘1992’ reached upwards of 300k plays on Soundcloud, with many tracks challenging notions of millennial female strength. Her single ‘Tomboy’ is the most pressing example of this – a middle finger to socially accepted norms of femininity. Two further videos stand out – ‘Brujas’ honours her afro-carribean heritage, deeply rooted family tree and the empowerment in connecting with ones roots; ‘Kitana’ is a sun drenched ode to New York in the 90’s, with Frasqueri taking over a basketball court with a squad of women of colour.
Notably, Frasqueri also founded, alongside collaborator Milah Libin, the urban feminist podcast and collective Smart Girls Club, which “aims to empower women of all shapes, sizes, colors, sexualities, and orientations by focusing on creative collaboration and celebration between women.” To date, they have hosted workshops, panel discussions, pop-up shops and music events.
It’s refreshing to see an artist with a socially charged agenda step forward so vocally and consistently – her live shows are charged and outspoken, at London’s Jazz Cafe she invited women in the audience forward to fill the front rows. Crowd-surfing, hugging and passing on the mics are interspersed with periods of passionate oratory and the fearless wont to eject any misogynistic males in the audience.
Check her out at Patterns in Brighton on June 2.
Photo: Vicky Grout