SWG3, Glasgow
Backed by a beaming neo-soul band, Noname receives a hero’s welcome for her blend of social commentary and jokey asides

‘Y’all really thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?” Noname winks conspiratorially. She’s less than a minute into Self, the first track from her debut album, and Glasgow’s sold-out crowd roars in appreciation. But Noname’s punchlines always hit twice: “Nah, actually this is for me.”

Her evasive moniker has been a symbolic, protective shield for Chicago rapper Fatimah Warner. She self-financed last year’s Room 25 LP with the proceeds from touring her beloved 2016 mixtape Telefone, and both records speak to a slippery sense of identity in an overwhelming, unjust world.

On stage, though, she is radiant and commanding, bouncing in her Converse. Telefone’s Diddy Bop receives an ear-splitting hero’s welcome, as does latest single Song 31 – so much so that she stages an intervention: “Only scream when I’m rapping! When I speak, you listen.”

Her conversational mode is set to fast-forward; words tumble from her mouth as if they’ve been waiting fully formed on the tip of her tongue. She rolls a captive audience through jokey asides and searing social commentary, and finds poetry and politics in the spaces in between. A beaming five-piece band illustrates her world with lush, sweeping neo-soul, and a neon-pink and electric-green Room 25 sign seems to transform SWG3 into the city’s most exclusive members’ club – extreme competition for tickets already bumped up the show from a far smaller venue.

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