Princess Nokia stepped on stage Friday night dressed in a checkered crop top and pink camouflage cargo pants, proudly flaunting her “little titties” and “fat belly” she gloated about in her underground hit “Tomboy”. The 25-year-old rapper from New York held down 1015 Folsom Friday night during their 420 celebrations bringing together an eclectic bay area crowd. A light haze of smoke lingered over the main floor as Princess Nokia dominated the stage, showing off her prowess as a performer and proud feminist dedicated to creating safe spaces for her fans.
Destiny Frasqueri, aka Princess Nokia, is known for being unapologetically herself. She’s a self-proclaimed radical, intersectional feminist who is known for ardently using her voice and body to embolden her political advocacy. Her lyricism illuminates what it’s like to be Princess Nokia in her New York kingdom. She spits bars that expose vulnerable matters close to her heart. Her songs touch on her Afro-latin identity, mental health, Bruja witchcraft, and her love affair with the Big Apple’s subtle nuances.
Princess Nokia is remarkable because she’s released four projects in the last four years and expressed herself musically in a various amount of genres ranging from UK garage, r&b, and hip hop; her latest mixtape A Girl Cried Red draws major inspiration from emo music in the early 2000s. Surprisingly she didn’t perform any songs from her new project. Instead during her set, she performed songs primarily from her major label debut 1992. The crowd ignited with strong feminine energy when Princess Nokia laid out girl power like hits “Tomboy” and “Kitana”. She performed deep cuts true fans would recognize from Soundcloud like “Dragons” and “Young Girls”. She effortlessly flowed from low octave rapping on tracks like “Bart Simpson” or “Goth Kid” to tender singing on “Apple Pie”. She’s is a musical chameleon, seamlessly weaving multiple genres of music and throwing a wild show that demonstrates it all.
Princess Nokia performed on a stage bathed in purple and pink artificial lighting while videos of New York looped in the background. One moment she’s throwing it back twerking with her tongue out and the next she’s flinging her body into the crowd to surf. Only a moment later she’s bending down to get eye level with the audience, touching their hands and telling them how much she loves them.
But, don’t get it twisted this is Princess Nokia’s show and nobody else’s. She does not tolerate the bullshit, and that’s probably why people love her so much. She creates safe spaces for women and LGBTQIA+ to be themselves and have a good time. On stage, Princess Nokia asked everyone to create some space so people wouldn’t get trampled; she encouraged two people fighting in the crowd to “be real women and take it outside”; she told men to be mindful of their space by allowing women to come front and center so they could see her perform clearly; and I saw this vibe emulated in the crowd when one man tried to aggressively push his way in front of me and another man next to me kindly asked him to stop (which hardly ever happens).
The thing about Princess Nokia, she’s living her true authentic self and making whatever space she is in a safe place for creativity and expression for everyone. She’s truly grateful for where she’s at and what she’s doing. She’s doing it at her own pace, on her own terms, and all the better for it with the support of her loyal fan base. When she’s on stage, she’s looking at people in the eyes complementing their style and accepting their gifts. By the end of the show, she was wearing a daisy flower crown given to her by one of the beautiful faces in the crowd as a token of her gratitude and a humble display of respect. For now, the Princess has left the bay but she blessed us with her presence for one hazy April night. Written by Mia Tapnio