Princess Nokia, New York's most outspoken intersectional female rapper, is spreading her defiant message of empowerment beyond the Five Boroughs. A native of East Harlem and the Lower East Side, she's been weaving the City's chaotic, multicultural soundscape into magnetic beats since her teen years. But rapping isn't just a question of innovative aesthetics for Princess Nokia. An outspoken advocate for women of color and the cultures so often sidelined by mainstream music, she uses her rhymes to showcase fellow "outcasts," as she calls herself, refusing to bend to pop culture's sugary, plastic norms.
"I just always try to keep the ghetto alive in me. I don't ever think I've been assimilated in my life," she reflects. "I'm a very eloquent, well-spoken, educated woman, and I never change my voice for nobody, because I never wanted to, because I knew that my culture was special." Nowhere is this investment in spotlighting and celebrating marginalized stories clearer than in her music video for "Young Girls" — Nokia's hypnotically stark anthem for women of all ethnicities, captured here as the Eden where sisterhood reigns supreme.
Unsurprisingly, Nokia's fearless inclusivity comes with some inevitable, and occasionally explosive, pushback. During a concert earlier this year at Cambridge University, the rapper abruptly ended her set when interrupted by a disrespectful male audience member, allegedly punching him in the face to shut down his misogynistic heckles. While it's still not cool to get physical even with your most blatant haters, Princess Nokia isn't mincing words in her boldly inspiring in message to trailblazing artists and women of color everywhere. "I really hope that what girls convey from my message...is that it is okay to be unapologetic, so long as you do it with dignity."