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Rising Chicago rapper was reared on Buddy Guy, not Tupac

Noname Gypsy is a rising rapper from Chicago. She recently chatted with msnbc about her upcoming EP, "Telephone," and collaborating with Michael Jackson.
Chicago rapper Noname Gypsy.  
Chicago rapper Noname Gypsy.  

msnbc is celebrating black history by profiling game-changing black musicians and film directors throughout February. 

Fatimah Warner is a rising rapper from Chicago. She has collaborated with Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and Donnie Trumpet. She recently chatted with msnbc about her upcoming EP, "Telefone," and collaborating with Michael Jackson, if given the chance. 

"My early memories of music was listening to Buddy Guy, Holland Wolf. It’s not like Tupac like a lot of young people."'

Describe who you are and what you do in one breath:

I’m an artist and I create hip-hop music, poetry. I’m black. I define my identity in being black. I’m weird, I’m awkward.

There’s seems to be a strong music community coming out of Chicago. How did that come about?

The relationship is pretty friendly because we’re actually friends. A really organic experience with those people [Mick Jenkins, Saba, Chance The Rapper]. Right now, I’m working with Nico Segal [Donnie Trumpet] on my EP.

How did the environment you grew up inform your craft?

My mom owned a bookstore, so I spent a lot of time there. I wasn’t an avid reader, but being in that environment and the people who were coming in, there was a black consciousness, and buying books influenced the art I like.

What’s your earliest memory of music?

I grew up listening to the blues because I grew up in my grandparents’ home. My early memories of music was listening to Buddy Guy and Howlin' Wolf. It’s not like Tupac like a lot of young people. The first time I listened to Kanye, I was a freshmen in high school – that’s when I started to get into rap.

If you had to choose two songs to play on repeat … forever:

Labi Siffre "Bless the Telephone"/ Kanye West “Only One

Who’s making dope music right now?

Frank Ocean's “Channel Orange.” Recently, Future’s new music. Nico Segal is killing it right now. His new project ["Surf"] sounds phenomenal. 

Who is your creative inspiration?

I’m inspired by the people I’m around. Visuals, I watch a lot of films. Nina Simone. Malcolm London who is an activist. Art interacts with humanity … the simpler aspects of life.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my ability to ... “not give a f--k..” Not caring what other people say about my art. That’s really liberating!

If the world could hear one Noname song, what would it be?


If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive?

It would’ve been cool to collaborate with Michael Jackson … I don’t know what it would look like because I don’t know if he was ever on any rap songs.

What’s your take on the Azealia Banks vs. Iggy Azalea as far as who owns hip-hop?

I do feel that everyone’s anger toward Iggy Azalea is somewhat misplaced. I feel them for being angry at who she is for “appropriating black culture,” but I feel that it’s the powers that be that allow that type of an artist be considered superior. She’s not the issue, it’s that people that have created the environment for her to thrive. I definitely feel Azealia Banks. I feel her passion.

What can we expect from you in 2015?

I’m on this tour [Mick Jenkins and Kirk Knight with Saba Pivot and NoName Gypsy] and then my EP "Telephone". I do plan on performing a lot more.

Is there a verse or a couple lines of poetry you can share:

It doesn’t have a name because it's not a song yet:

I found the window to your soul 
inside a window to your house a couple blocks away from Cottage Grove
I know you told me not to look so hard but there’s something about the magic
It gets me every time
the disappear, the dotted line where you could sign your life away
watch the banks colonize 
cuz if you save your dollars, you'll have your dollars forever

If you had a chance to talk to President Obama, what would you say?

I would just say hello, how are you.

If you had to rewrite history …

Slavery wouldn’t have happened.

What are your memories of Black History Month as a child in school? What do you make of it today?

My mom did a bunch of bookstores things ... Authors coming and book signings. One year she got Maya Angelou, another year she got Dr. Cornel West. I remember them – black celebrities. 

Keep up with Noname on Twitter @NonameGypsy.

For more profiles, check out: Before he was a Bada$$, Joey was most likely to become president