Concert Review | Princess Nokia


Matt Cruz, Media Librarian

Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, better known as Princess Nokia, is one of the most outspoken and unique voices in the hip hop sphere. After dazzling the scene with her 2017 album, 1992 Deluxe, Nokia proved that she was a delay chameleon capable of showcasing thoughtful ideas, heady production, and a swarm of influences longer than a CVS receipt.

After a few years of relative silence from Nokia, she self-released two albums, Everything Sucks and Everything Is Beautiful. These albums resumed the witty and dynamic performances found on 1992 Deluxe without skipping a beat.

Nokia’s influences were carefully planted seeds in her youth; now they’ve blossomed into a colorful, and vibrant meadow of sound, each flower referencing her past sounds, identities, and interests. 

As someone who loved Princes Nokia’s 2017 album, I had been aiming to catch her live since I first heard that record. Embarking on the Bloom Tour, I was eager to see how Nokia had grown from 2017 – and she made it joyously clear that she is growing strong. 

I drove down to The Majestic, with a friend in my front seat, eagerly waiting to see what she would unleash from her hiatus in the rap scene. After the alt-R&B crooners of Dounia, Princess Nokia had finally taken the stage. 

Amongst the bleached petals and fungi of strange, yet imposing inflatable plants, Princess Nokia immediately unleashed a fury of vocal performance. With a confident and animated delivery, she immediately disproved any would-be naysayer about her multi-year album hiatus. Beginning with “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.),” Princess Nokia stepped out on stage, nerd-clad in an anime top and plaid skirt. 

The rooms crowd erupted in a lip-synced uproar, perfectly screaming the hook to her bulletproof banger:

“Sugar Honey Iced Tea /

These bitches don’t like me /

These bitches wanna fight me /

And doin’ shit just to spite me.”

Her reserved, yet concentrated strength from her delivery filled the room in an immense energy, reflected in the backup dancers supporting Nokia in a symmetrical stage play. 

Her performers all had an impressively choreographed routine for each track. There were times where it seems as if the dancers themselves were battling Nokia for the spotlight, and it’s clear from their skill that was the intention. 

Between tracks, Nokia would often talk to the crowd, allowing them to ask her questions and restating her appreciation for her fans. Between her hard delivery and soft crooning, Princess Nokia had effortlessly made the most humanizing stage presence that I’d ever seen.

The music be damned, the warmth and sincerity she showed for each and every one of her fans radiated with a genuine luster that has yet to be matched. There was even a point in which between songs, she engaged in a conversation with the crowd, asking people what Netflix series and anime they had been watching lately.

Tracks like “Brujas” had the crowd erupt into a righteous frenzy, grooving and swerving with the energy of a freight train. Between these points of pent-up aggression, were also soft-spoken acapellas of songs like “Corazon en Afrika” and “Apple Pie.” These specific tracks were sung with no backing track, embodying the from-the-heart performance more audaciously than any other performer I’d ever seen. Despite Nokia not being the most dynamic performer in the world, she carries herself with a respect and grace for her craft that becomes transformative; it’s impossible to feel as if she is anything but a force to be reckoned with.  

Her vocal inflections became heavily contrasted with her transformative personas that she carries in her songs. While Nokia often spoke and addressed the crowd in a reserved, kind, and airy voice, you would think otherwise from the raspy and gruff delivery of songs in her setlist like “Bart Simpson,” and “Saggy Denim.”

One of the things she loves the most about her shows is that she sees many different people who “dress like one of her albums.” Princess Nokia is widely known for her diverse music style across all her bodies of work. She told the crowd, “I don’t care if I make any money making music. If I release something, it’s a representation of me.” 

Princess Nokia is an unabashed nerd through and through. Ruminating on bingeing The Legend of Korra, and other media all while wearing a waifu-beater. The crowd is just as stereotypically idiosyncratic, saying that it’s full of “band kids,” “Magic players,” “Pokémon players,” and “Yu-Gi-Oh players.” 

Ending the show with “Harley Quinn,” Nokia reinforced in her setlist who she is, and by extension, validated all walks of life watching her show-stopping performance. Her music is weird, and her music is personal. That’s what we all love about her; that’s what she loves about us.

Looking around the room, there were people of all different ethnic and cultural groups, and Nokia’s music had created a home for them. In her performance, output, and disposition, it seems that Princess Nokia wants to remind people of three key facts: That you are loved, you are special and you’re gonna have a banger of a time. 

Fun, immersive shows are a very hard thing to pull off. Princess Nokia makes it look easy, making her more than deserving of the crown in her namesake.