Next up in our countdown to Spring Weekend is Princess Nokia, alter ego of New York City-based hip-hop rapper/singer/songwriter Destiny Frasqueri. She has also gone by the stage name Wavy Spice. Described as “the reigning duchess of New York’s experimental underground music scene,” Princess Nokia has been putting out music since 2010. Many of her songs deal with her identity as Nuyorican, or a Puerto Rican living in New York.
She told Bullett Magazine of her evolution into Princess Nokia. “As Princess Nokia I can project the multi-dimensional aspects of myself that I could not express with the name Wavy Spice. I can venture into any realm of music or character of my choosing without confusion. 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, and it will really speak of who Princess Nokia is. Princess Nokia is sound. It is progression. It is all that I am.”
A self-proclaimed “hood bitch,” Princess Nokia grew up listening to rock while hanging out on St. Marks Place in New York City, living in foster care and the projects while teaching herself philosophy and brujería (Spanish for “witchcraft”). She has also been outspoken in her support of queerness and her own queer identity, and she combines different styles of hip-hop into her sound, saying she’s “old-school with a new-school heart.” As old-school as she may be, Princess Nokia is still changing the hip-hop scene. She says, “I love being a rapper so much because I get to redefine what it is to be at the top. Them other boys at the top with me right now — they’re gods in their worlds — young gods. I’m a young god, too. I don’t get down like other rappers. But I am hip-hop.” Outside of her rap career, Princess Nokia also has a podcast called Smart Girl Club Radio. Take a look at The FADER’s 16-minute documentary below.
Princess Nokia has self-released two EPs (Metallic Butterfly in 2014 and Honeysuckle in 2015) and an album,1992, last September. Most of her songs are not available on Spotify, but on her SoundCloud or YouTube account instead. She’s said, “Going on stage, performing, making people feel good, singing songs that people can’t get online—that’s really cool.”
Listen to the first song that put Princess Nokia on the map, 2012’s “YAYA,” which honors her Taino roots, and look at “Nokia,” which began her transformation from Wavy Spice to Princess Nokia. On Metallic Butterfly, listen to “Dragons” (inspired by Game of Thrones) and “Young Girls,” and also check out “Apple Pie” off Honeysuckle. She’s also collaborated with Mykki Blanco on 2014’s “Wish You Would.”
Make sure you listen to some of 1992 before Princess Nokia takes the stage on Friday. Some of the most popular tracks on the album are “Tomboy,” “Kitana,” and “Brujas.” If you need further convincing, Pitchfork says, “Homages to ’90s New York rap are rarely as historically nuanced as Princess Nokia’s ‘Brujas.'”
She’s released some seriously awesome visuals for three songs off the album as well, including the video for Tomboy below. If you weren’t excited about Princess Nokia’s visit to campus before, by now you seriously should be.