Princess Nokia at the Variety Playhouse

“THIS IS A FEMME AND POC PRIORITIZED SPACE SO WHAT THAT MEANS IS PLEASE ALLOW THE WOMEN OF COLOR TO THE FRONT TO ENJOY THEMSELVES.”

After Princess Nokia said this at her show at the Variety Playhouse on October 24th there was a shift in the crowd, one that created a positive energy. Irritating drunk white dudes who didn’t even know Princess Nokia’s music with beers in both hands— one for his girlfriend (I saw them earlier making everyone else around them uncomfortable while they were slobbering over each other)—would not be tolerated. People told him “no, you cannot move to the front of this show;” this notion was accepted by the crowd immediately. There was a sense of unity.

Princess Nokia works to create this sense of unity and community at her shows, this specific show was free of charge. The community she created shifted after her EP A Girl Cried Red was released in April to a more punk focus, shifting from the old-school New York hip-hop sound on her album 1992.

Speaking to this shift she has said, “I think that brown people are attracted to rock music because it speaks on the spectrum of pain that brown people are predisposed to. So I think that there is emotion—emo music, indie music, rock music—there is emotion or a form of escapism or pain that translates what makes brown kids put on stud belts and straighten their hair and be rockers in school. I think that’s where it comes from. It’s not just me. It’s an entire population from the last 30 years of kids that are responding to an emptiness in their hearts.”

As a Black Latina woman in pop-punk, Princess Nokia takes songs like “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco and sings them at her concert in a sort of whiny voice like Blink-182 to show how she is just as legitimate in punk as the white 30-somethings men most consider as representatives of the category. She also furthered the genre with her EP by combining the traditional pop-punk sound with modern emo rap like in the song “For the Night”— “Smash my heart in pieces it looks so good on the floor.”

In A Girl Cried Red, she varies inflection and intensity, channeling Lil Peep, Fall Out Boy, and The Offspring. Although I prefer 1992, A Girl Cried Red is the person Princess Nokia [Destiny] wants to be. Although she sends conflicting messages as to whether she will release a new album soon, she is an extremely promising artist whose trajectory has been exciting to watch.

-Anastasia Fassman

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