Room 25 by Noname
I’ve spoken before about the distinct lack of gender parity within my musical tastes; I’ve never had more than ten woman-led acts on any Top 31. And gender is not the only place where the Bacon Review lacks diversity. Without doing a formal count, it looks like I’ve not had more than 20 non-white acts within the entire 10-year run of the Bacon Top 31. Not just in one year, but in all years, combined. The Venn diagram between those two minority representations within the Top 31 is consequently miniscule: I count six women of color across all past Top 31s — Sharon Jones (R.I.P.), Mitski, Grace Love, and Beyoncé, FKA Twigs and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.
For the last few years, I’ve been pushing my musical boundaries, embracing albums that might never have made it into my purview 10, 15, 20 years ago. Enter Chicago’s Fatimah Nyeema Warner, better known by her stage name Noname. Female, African-American, jazz and neo-soul fueled rap is nowhere near my comfort zone. And yet, here we are.
Warner, at 27, is just getting started. While Room 25 is her debut, the word “debut” is dubious here. She’s been on the scene since 2013, when she appeared on the second mixtape from Chance the Rapper (whose own 2016 mixtape, Coloring Book, would definitely have been on the Top 31 that year had I only heard it in time — when listening outside of my comfort zone, it can take a little bit longer for the music to reach my ears). Since then, Warner made guest appearances on many people’s own albums, and released her own mixtape in 2016 that I have yet to hear.
Regardless of your musical proclivities, there’s something for everyone on this album. If you’re reading this and you’re a friend of mine, then it’s probably not something you’d normally listen to. But give it a shot — I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
25. WARM by Jeff Tweedy
26. God's Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
27. Vessel by Frankie Cosmos
28. For Ever by Jungle
29. Twerp Verse by Speedy Ortiz
30. Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo
31. This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet by Moonface