Review Summary: Dial. Redial.
With Fatima Warner’s debut mixtape, Telefone
, Noname breaks the mold with a calm and collected tape that brings out the beauty and elegance of youthful naivety and romance that has been long since absent for the 2016 release line up. While Noname has gained prevalence in the industry due in thanks to collaborations with artists such as Chance the Rapper and Mick Jenkins; along with a series of slam poetry titles under her belt, it wouldn’t be until this fall season where she would have a chance to shine on her own with an independant release. Telefone
, in concept, is a conversation; described as a recollection of phone calls and conversations that helped shape Noname’s career to this current point, redirected and packaged as the first phone call with the person you like.
In other words, Telefone
is an open dinner Q&A. It oversees the back and forths, hopes and dreams, inspirations, and of course; pitfalls shared between two forces in a conversation. Each moment with this record is a joyous and bubbly look into the enthusiasm Noname pushes and shares over the story of becoming the person of which she is today. A tad one-way as the conversation may be, as you certainly cannot converse with an album in full; the tape pushes a strong enough narrative between its carefully woven lyricism and cute production that makes each passing moment between listener and speaker all the worthwhile. And in an even further extreme, there are quite instances of sampled phone rings that act as introductions for selected guest musicians; helping build the concept as a whole and giving it a firm foundation.
There’s a rhythm to be found within this manner of presentation. The unashamed soul styling and carefully strapped on pianos, music boxes, and slightly reserved synths give the album an incredibly warm, comforting vibe that bounces with a living vibrancy that creates an atmosphere of isolation between the material and it’s listener; even if percussion mistakenly finds itself to be a tad rudimentary at moments. Perhaps this is what makes Telefone
an incredibly drawing listen, as Noname presents an outstanding performance with her stylistic blend of RnB-tinged flow between each softly rapped verse. While the inclusion of guest performers and rappers only provide extra incentive to give the tape a spin, as their parts effortlessly contribute to the comforting vibes of the record.
As for the meat of the album, as this record is a conversation after all, Noname presents a formidable pallet of conscious thoughts and open ended questions that help cement the concept of the record as a success. One is quick to become familiarized with the character that is Noname as one with dignity and fortitude that favors description and imagery over solidified wordplay and flow. Describing and articulating the norms of life as a simple first conversation, helped made effective with the calculated class that can be achieved with solid songwriting. It can be seen as an odd choice for presentation at first, but as one is quick to realize, it's what gives the album that final genuine push to make it feel like a fully realized conversation as opposed to a collection of songs that conform to a vaguely defined concept.
is a record that carries romance and positivity with a grounded and down to earth look through the eyes of an open ended conversation. Never going too far to break believability and betraying the concept, nor being too elementary to be boring; Noname finds a perfect balance that undoubtedly makes her work and the individual she presents as attention grabbers worth every second of conversation. As her name begins to appear more and more through the industry, potentially due to the strength of this release, one can hope that there will be time for a second conversation in the distant future.