Artist You Need To Know: Princess Nokia

If you’re looking for a pop star, Princess Nokia is not the bubblegum crooner you’d have in mind. On the contrary, 22-year-old Princess Nokia (the stage name of New York native Destiny Frasqueri) favors the melding of multiple genres, dipping in and out of vibrant imagery and musical styles with ease. In May of this year, the underground artist partnered with Vice to release her full-length debut, Metallic Butterfly. With the cyber dystopia of The Matrix and a flurry of electro-synth and pounding hip-hop, the album is a sonic revelation that champions the positive necessity of feminism and the indomitable power of staying true to yourself. The album, produced by OWWWLS, is an exciting reflection of a fearless artist who utilizes pop culture infused fantasies and sharp social commentary. One standout track is “Dragons,” which was inspired by the relationship between Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo from “Game of Thrones.” The track “Young Girls” celebrates the promise of youth set against the backdrop of an electronic cyber-dream: “Young girls, patrons of the Earth/Young girls, take care of all the Earth/Young girls, they need their own respect/Young girls, carry babies from their necks.”

In addition to her music, Princess Nokia is the figurehead for the Smart Girls Club, described as “a medium that speaks to US, women of all ages, cultures and walks of life.” The artistic collective regularly hosts a cyber radioshow on Know-Wave Radio. The show features guest hosts and an ever-rotating playlist that showcases Nokia’s diverse and all-inclusive musical taste. For example, one week the show could be devoted to 90s R&B. The following week, the show could veer into the opposite direction and play nothing but nu-metal. Her choices as DJ are as diplomatic as a TRL countdown in the days of Carson Daly, when videos from Korn played alongside Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Nokia regularly takes to Twitter to crowdsource possible topics for that week’s episode. Nothing is off limits. Discussions tackle everything from mental health to relationships to spirituality. Her openness and honesty are refreshing qualities that attract and keep old and new fans alike.

During one recent show, Nokia unabashedly discussed her family, namely how her parents met and the untimely passing of her mother. In these conversations, Nokia seems approachable yet blessed with the other-worldly, Sphinx-like wisdom of a beloved older sister. She frequently seeks to elevate her peers, namely creative young women. Although socially conscious, Nokia never pushes her beliefs on anyone. Through her music and the Smart Girls Club, her feminism is not just a rallying cry for the marginalized, but an outlet and non-judgmental safe space for the aforementioned. It’s a nice change from reading about Top 40 chart toppers who proudly declare their dismissal of feminism based on the false notion that it seeks to destroy the entire male population.

Her most recent single, “Anomaly,” could be the theme song for a dark anime centering on the covert adventures of a female assassin or secret agent. Nokia told FADER’s Matthew Trammell, “When you’ve spent as much time in graveyards and funerals as I have, you develop this secondary air to you. It becomes a part of you. I celebrate the beauty in its sadness and darkness.”

Nokia’s talents have caught the eye of the fashion world; she was recently interviewed by Opening Ceremony, who called her “a symbol of a new breed of feminism on a broader market.”

It’s safe to say that this is just the beginning for the multifaceted singer and MC. I can’t wait to see what she tackles next. In a society that often demeans women and has transformed feminism into another four letter word, Princess Nokia’s voice is not only admirable but vital.

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