The Duality Of Princess Nokia
For this feature on Princess Nokia, I’ve decided to look at the ways in which both her life and art exhibit opposing traits. This duality is a constant theme for the singer; the source of some of the most exciting music in recent times, made by an artist who bares a similar kind of distinction. Maybe it was written in the stars as it were. Princess Nokia is a Gemini, and this in itself brings on certain qualities. The main quality I hear from many Gemini’s is that in certain situations they are as wild as can be, and that in other scenarios they can be extremely introverted. Princess Nokia spoke about this paradox in personality, in her interview with Brown University.
Personality aside, Princess Nokia, real name Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, is a multicultural melting pot within herself. The 25 year old identifies as black, white and Native American. In addition to this she also chooses to love who she loves, whether it be male or female.
In that same Brown University interview, the origins of perhaps her most vital yin/yang qualities are revealed. In early life she was embraced religion wholeheartedly, before moving to the lower eastside of New York in the bloom of her teens, where she partied. And partied. And partied some more. Spiritual but streetwise, righteous but ratchet, this dichotomy is something we also get to see in her music, where she switches between upbeat trap and boom bap hip hop, and more soulful tones, just like my Friday night playlist.
Princess Nokia also goes on to talk about how she’s just as white as she is black, however her heritage isn’t as simple as that, the singer an American of Afro-Puerto Rican descent- but she also lets us know in the song “Brujas” that’s she is native American; she has lineage from the Taino’s (the indigenous people of the Caribbean) and talks about how her origins are from the African diaspora, specifically ancestry from Nigeria. I know. It’s a lot. But this melting pot of origins is exactly what makes Princess Nokia such a great spokesperson for so many different people. Just as her racial ancestry is complicated; so is her sexual orientation, and even the way she presents herself as a proud woman, she refuses to conform to society’s norm.
As already mentioned in her breakout single “Tomboy”, she is not your average girl; she feels that she is more androgynous rather than completely falling in the masculine or feminine category. Her opening bars set the record straight, with her stating she has little “titties” and a “fat belly”. These are usually physical traits that most females would despise, but by accepting these socially undesirable attributes, she actually empowers herself. Just like her black and white heritage, she has come to accept she is androgynous physically and she is also spiritually androgynous with her sexual orientation, loving both females and males; it is this same spiritual freedom- free from being categorized- that allows her to be righteous and ratchet with ease.
So as we have already discussed in this piece, Nokia is a dualism, and you can’t put her in a category- at first I thought she was just an enigmatic New York spitter. Songs like “Kitana” and “Tomboy” will lead you to thinking this woman is on a complete and utter madness. But when we delve more into the Brown university interview, she reveals that she has more spiritual layers to her.
She talks about the various different religions that came into her life during her upbringing: first it was Catholicism that her family followed, and she talks about how she had to go to church every Sunday (a routine I know very well); following this her father went to prison and when he came back out- he resurfaced as a Muslim- so this was the next religion that dictated her life, but then after sometime her father also drifted away from this spiritual denomination. Nokia also states that she had family friends who were Jewish, and she used to go to Jewish get-togethers; giving her a 20/20 look into the 3 Abrahamic religions. Lastly she mentions how she currently practices the indigenous Taino religion, which is centered on the worship of spirits and ancestors, and she said this was passed down to her from her mother. So we see, even though Princess Nokia is a wild soul, she also has a spiritually calm side to her.
From the beginning Princess Nokia has shown us that we cannot classify her in one group. If we look at it in one way she is a duality. She is calm yet wild. Black yet white. She is feminine in the flesh yet masculine in mould. We see that when critics try to portray her in one way, she makes a sharp U-turn and goes against the grain. Moral of the story is- do not try to bracket Princess Nokia- because she will flip the script on you in the blink of an eye.
Words: Denzil Bell