For someone who’s modeled for Calvin Klein, Princess Nokia does not give a fuck about being pretty—or anything else.
The same gentle voice that whispers prayers while making rosewater screams “KITANA KITANA KITANA KITANA” on the third track of her second album, 1992, which was released in September 2016. On it, she also repeats “My little titties and my fat belly” with an electric snap of energy and rage, making references to everything from The Simpsons to Blue’s Clues. In both music videos she’s charged up and almost unrecognizable, playing the gritty “Tomboy” on the basketball court.
Rapping under the alter-ego Princess Nokia, 24 year-old Destiny Frasqueri projects an androgynous style and boss-ass-bitch attitude with a touch of nerd quirk— essentially making her Lana Del Rey and Tyler the Creator’s much less problematic lovechild. Growing up in Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side, Frasqueri reps NYC with pride in her raps. The subject of The Fader magazine’s new documentary, Destiny, Frasqueri opens up about what makes her Princess Nokia, including her Afro-Puerto Rican and Santerian roots.
“I’m that Blackorican bruja. Straight out from the Yoruba, and my people come from Africa-diaspora Cuba,” she spits on the fourth 1992 track, “Brujas.” In the music video, released in November, Frasqueri celebrates the mermaid goddess Yemaya and black girl magic. Draped in arctic blue coverings, she’s shown being worshiped by her equally beautiful and magical friends.
“The indigenous woman is reflective of the modern, urbanized ghetto woman,” Frasqueri told The Fader in a separate interview. “I don’t like to lose sight of that. Because my people were oppressed, murdered, and their spirituality was taken away from them, I feel it’s my duty to exhibit it in my art.”
Princess Nokia isn’t just rapping for women though. As a queer person of color, she’s looking to empower minorities around the world.
In The Fader’s documentary, Frasqueri announces to the crowd at one show, “So like I say at all these patriarchal, male-dominated events: all the motherfuckin’ girls to the fuckin’ front!” As young women rush giddily to the stage, she crouches down to look them in the eye as she sings “Young Girls” from her premier album, Metallic Butterfly. She sways, bobs and vibes along with them, lulling “Young girls, patrons of the Earth / Young girls, take care of all the Earth.”
Princess Nokia isn’t just rapping for women though. As a queer person of color, she’s looking to empower minorities around the world. She told Bullet Magazine, “I’m making worldly music—music that will talk to all kinds of people: Banjee girls in Harlem, teen brides in the Middle East, gay boys in East Asia. Labels no longer matter. My new music is cosmic and three-dimensional, and it will really speak of who Princess Nokia is. Princess Nokia is sound. It is progression. It is all that I am.”
Frasqueri makes her last US tour stop before heading to Europe in her homeland of Brooklyn in what is sure to be a hype show on Jan. 13.