A master class with Noname at The Fillmore Philly - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Rapping is hard as hell, but some people make it look easier than breathing.

Last night, the Chicago-born rapper Noname graced Philadelphia with her presence and expert-level spitting skills as she performed tracks from multiple studio albums, including her most recent release Sundial. Between the technical prowess and subject matter of her raps, it’s almost criminal how often Noname is left out of the GOAT rap conversations. Blame it on gender, blame it on her underground or indie positioning in the industry, but Noname’s notoriety for her skill is not an even match.

That unfortunate mismatch could be seen on Sunday night at the Fillmore, where fans were not hard-pressed for space in the venue. Although the room was far from empty, it was surprising it see how many folks didn’t show up. And honestly, that might have been the most beautiful thing about the evening: there were no casual fans in attendance. The folks who were there were there for Noname alone and had absolutely no issues rapping along to the artist’s complex flow and heady wordplay; it was impressive.

Noname | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

Throughout the duration of the night, Noname exuded a playful energy that could be found in her crowd banter and casual movements as she commanded the stage. There was a lot of give-and-take between her and the audience that made the show feel like a gathering amongst friends instead of a concert at one of Philly’s biggest music halls. The show was a conversation between Noname and some of her most avid supporters.

Noname kicked off the night with performances of “Song 33,” a Madlib-produced track that was released in 2020. The song served as a response to the uprisings at the time and was also a responding dig at fellow rapper J Cole who shaded her earlier that year. Noname went on to perform other songs, mainly from her critically-acclaimed Sundial. The playful stage presence continued, and one of the highlights from the night came when someone in the audience held up a dry-erase board that said Free Palestine, which caught Noname’s attention. Once the artist shared the message of “Free Palestine” from the mic, the crowd erupted in cheers of support.

Noname | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

The show went on, and eventually Noname — seemingly wrapped up her set — departed the stage with her band and background singers, but the house nights never came on. Noname and crew came back for an encore, where she performed “Self” a track from the 2018 release Room 25.

There is no question whether or not Noname is one the the best rappers out right now, and yeah more people should know about her. But going by the visceral reactions to her music by her core fans at the Philly stop of the Sundial tour, Noname is amongst family who sees and deeply values her talent.

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