Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, aka Princess Nokia, is here to change the rap game. The Afro-Puerto Rican rapper premiered her gritty video “Tomboy” in May of 2016, a record which showcased her as a swaggering, sh*t-talking emcee with dirty sneakers, “fucked-up hair”, baggy pants, wearing gold jewelry, while smoking weed casually in front of the camera, bragging about how much she adores her “little titties and fat belly.”
What makes the video so impressive is that the the “Tomboy” visual is devoid of the usual industry “glamour”, and is far from being an invented persona.
“The video is a reflection of me without my eccentricism,” she explained in a video interview with The Snobette. “The street-wear and the very androgynous tomboyish girl, that’s just not this new persona I’m introducing…it’s me 24/7. Me as Destiny, New York, growing up in the city, being a skater, being a comic book head, being a rapper, and being a really androgynous kid.”
Princess Nokia grew up between Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side, and seeks to revive the days of New York’s grittier side before gentrification. “My place in New York is very authentic, very old New York. I love old New York. That’s what I’m trying to procure even in my new project now.”
Her newest project, 1992, hints at days reminiscent in the city without rampant gentrification and the rise of the cost of living in various boroughs. “I think gentrification fucking sucks. I think it sucks for the people that have to live through it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not okay. It makes people feel like they’re fucking animals, like their worth is nothing.” Nokia boldly states. “I don’t fuck with it. I yell at [entitled] people on the train all the time.”
It’s this political, confrontational side of Nokia that’s led to the creation of various independent projects throughout her career. She’s been offered five record contracts and turned them all down, stating that there is no money in the contracts: “I wasn’t trying to be famous. There’s no money in music. I know that. I think the whole world should know that.” Being independent allowed her greater creative control and adds, “I’m not a woman looking to be taken advantage of. I’ve garnered my career and my opportunities and my accolades based off me. Solely me.”
Nokia’s politics, blunt honesty, and undermining of patriarchy is rapidly gaining her fans, and recently booked to perform at NYC’s fourth edition of the Afro-Latino Festival. “I’ve made a fucking fortune wearing dirty sneakers and being a fucking asshole. So, so to speak, that’s a full circle of how things work for me.”
“I’m very ‘nothing-bothers-me,’ laissez faire. Everything works for me,” she says. “I could make everything work for me. I can make having little titties and a big ass belly sexy…and I like things like that–where I can think up concepts and how I relate that to art and music. It’s like, being the coolest person and the ugliest person at the same time. I like the duality of making something beautiful that isn’t supposed to.”