Princess Nokia embraces her dualities and self-assurance on 1992 Deluxe | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Princess Nokia embraces her dualities and self-assurance on 1992 Deluxe

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In conversation, Princess Nokia (born Destiny Nicole Frasqueri) is soft-spoken and thoughtfully tackles subjects like blackness and urban feminism. But get on her bad side, and she’s lethal. In February 2017, the underground rapper from Spanish Harlem punched an audience member for mouthing sexist obscenities and in October, she slapped another man for making racist remarks on the train. Frasqueri owns the dualities of her personality in interviews and in her lyrics, and she always expresses exactly how she feels. On her studio debut, July’s 1992 Deluxe, Frasqueri celebrates herself, her multicultural roots, and other women, draping it all in unshakeable self-assurance and vivid detail. Expanding on her 2016 mixtape, the now 25-year-old delves into the elements that have contributed to her identity and her “fab bitch” persona. “Tomboy,” her breakout track, champions body positivity and challenges conventional Western beauty standards as she asserts that she could still snatch any man with her “little titties and my phat belly . . . Big pants and some scuffed shoes.” In “Brujas,” she proclaims herself a “Black a-Rican bruja” (Spanish for “witch”) whose powers originate from her indigenous ancestors in Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, and highlights the legacy of women supporting other women. On other tracks the production and Frasqueri’s talent for specificity (which is reminiscent of Nas) come together to paint a loving and nostalgic portrait of New York life. The sounds of school bells and kids’ voices on “Bart Simpson” help conjure Fraqueri’s childhood, and we can practically feel her teenage indolence as she sucks on a Now or Later and watches The Simpsons. “Green Line” features the rumble of incoming trains and wafts the aromas of horchata and chop-cheese sandwiches that Fraqueri references. All of these details, along with the strings and R&B background singers that recall 90s rap on “Saggy Denim,” help to illuminate the neighborhoods in which Frasqueri grew up. Even when some elements or songs don’t work—such as when she adopts different voices by alternating pitch and speed a la Nicki Minaj and her alter ego shtick—Frasqueri’s tenacious attitude keeps each track afloat. By the time they finish the album, listeners may find themselves standing up straighter and declaring “I don’t give a damn and I don’t give a fuck” (“Kitana”) thanks to Princess Nokia.   v

This show was moved from 3/24.

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