Afro-Indigenous rapper Princess Nokia, a.k.a Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, first broke on the New York underground rap scene back in 2010, and has since accumulated an army of loyal fans all over the world. Embracing feminism and individuality, her tomboyish aesthetic and often confrontational lyrics juxtaposes beautifully with her small frame soft melodic voice. In the midst of her European tour, during a studio session in London, we caught up with the outspoken artist to find out more about her inspirations, independence and her newest project, 1992.
On inspiration… I just like making music and everywhere I’d go in New York, I’d just write a bunch of records, walking around and hanging around the city. I’d just have fun, going bike riding, grabbing pizza and going swimming. I like my city a lot, and I love just walking around it and being around it, so I wrote the majority of the songs just doing that – incorporating these gorgeous elements that encompassed having a really great time in New York.
On the process… I don’t write songs with beats, I just do a whole bunch of rhyming on my phone and then record. I recorded the album in New York in two studios. So one was Letter Racer studio over on Market Street with Wiki, and he kinda executive produced the album because he was there for a lot for the recording at the early stages. I’d write a lot of music and share it with him, we’d smoke weed together, rap and talk about music. He was really encouraging about the things I was writing, he’s my best friend and we just connected a lot. Then I would go to Converse Studio in Brooklyn and just be by myself there. It took seven months to record overall.
On her favourite song on the album… Probably Bart Simpson. It was the last song I recorded, and I came into it so strong, the shit is just so hardcore; its dark, kind of geeky and really nerdy. It’s pro New York, and just so pro so many things. I like that I got to talk a lot about things, like comic books and skipping school and being an underachiever – I got to speak on all of those truths about myself that are usually the favorite things about myself. I thought it was a really interesting narrative of a very androgynous girl, you know, who still looks like a kid, feels like a kid – is like a bad little mischievous kid.
On independence… My early decisions came from not wanting male domination and wanting to be a singular woman and feminist in music. I think that very early on I realised a lot of men wanted to own me and have the largest say in what I did and what I put out. They wanted to be the first to have discovered me or put me on, or make me hot. For me that’s just simply not acceptable, darling. I just wasn’t comfortable with that. But as you know that is very, very common in music and for females and young female rappers. I didn’t have time for none of that shit. I knew from early how my career could have shaped if I allowed men to try and own me. So I made very conscious decisions because I knew what direction my career was going in. I had to be very, very confident with a manner of outstanding excellence and pure womanhood. Though I can say openly I have passive qualities about myself, I’m extremely forthright. So having to fight all my life for happiness, that same way of thinking was always applied to music and business.
Photography by Philipp Raheem
Listen to ‘1992’ below;