Noname has dropped the mic. The Chicago rapper responded to J. Cole’s surprise track with lyrics of her own. “Song 33,” produced by Madlib, according to Vibe, questions why Cole’s attention is on her when there is much more in the world to focus on, specifically the killing of Black people.
“Look at him go. He really 'bout to write about me when the world is in smokes? When it’s people in trees? When George begging for his mother saying he couldn’t breathe, you thought to write about me?” she raps.
— Noname (@noname) June 18, 2020
Her lyrical response comes after Cole’s diss track, which many believed was targeted at Noname.
The 28-year-old “Diddy Bop” rapper tweeted, then deleted, a post criticizing rappers for not speaking up about the protests we’ve seen across the country over the past few weeks.
“Poor black folks all over the country are putting their bodies on the line in protest for our collective safety and y’all favorite top selling rappers not even willing to put a tweet up,” she wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times. “N***as whole discographies be about black plight and they no where to be found.”
What Noname tweeted & deleted vs J Cole’s RESPONSE…..for those who don’t know a damn thing…. pic.twitter.com/tr6WSRG1v6
— Homer Sipsumn ???? (@TheIgnantOne) June 17, 2020
As many Cole fans know, the rapper, born Jermaine Lamarr Cole, has continuously rapped about struggles Black people face in his songs including, "Immortal," "Change" and "4 Your Eyez Only." While Noname didn’t name drop in her tweet, Cole must have taken it to heart because not long after, the 35-year-old surprised his fans with “Snow On Tha Bluff.”
In the song, he addresses a “young lady out there” who’s “way smarter than me.”
“She mad at these celebrities, lowkey I be thinkin she talkin bout me,” he raps.
Cole welcomes and accepts criticism and open discussion in his song, but his mention of her tone and his request for her to educate him angered many people, specifically women.
“But s**t, it’s something bout the queen tone that’s bothering me. She strike me as someone blessed enough to grow up in a conscious environment,” he raps. “Just cause you woke and I’m not, that s**t ain’t no reason to talk like you better than me … That s**t you saying? Instead of conveying you holier, come help us get up to speed.”
After the song was released, many came to Noname’s defense, citing the fact that she has done the work to, not only, educate herself, but share those resources with other people. According to Twitter, the “Bye Bye Baby” rapper discussed capitalism on the platform and, after being critiqued and educated on the system, subsequently changed her stance.
Just last year Noname was advocating Black entrepreneurship/capitalism. She was called in (and out, tbh) and started to do the work herself. She wasn’t born w/the politics she has now. She did the same work others can do.
— Rebel Scum (@awkward_duck) June 17, 2020
Noname on becoming radical:
“The internet called me out…I was romanticizing Black Wall Street…and capitalism…For one I didn’t understand what capitalism was fully…and yeah the internet basically destroyed me, and that’s what led me on the journey towards reading.“ https://t.co/qB6jH91uSn
— black transgender (@satindurag) June 15, 2020
Noname said capitalism was the answer and we said ???? and she said "Oh my bad I don't know enough" and then she went to go and read. Look how easy it could be
— Bolu Babalola (@BeeBabs) June 17, 2020
She created Noname’s Book Club, which is “dedicated to uplifting POC voices,” according to its website. The book club encourages its members to shop locally and have free in-person meetings to discuss the book of the month.
In "Song 33," Noname tries to refocus her listeners' attention on important issues, citing the death of teen activist Oluwatoyin Salau.
“Yo, but little did I know all my readin' would be a bother. It's trans women bein' murdered and this is all he can offer? And this is all y'all receive? Distracting from the convo with organizers. They talkin' abolishin' the police and this the new world order,” she raps.
A day after he released his song, Cole took to Twitter to double down on his stance, saying he “stand[s] behind every word of the song” and that it was honest.
Right or wrong I can’t say, but I can say it was honest.
— J. Cole (@JColeNC) June 17, 2020
He said that some may speculate who the song is about, but he didn’t confirm Noname was the subject. He also tweeted his support for Noname and encouraged his fans to follow her.
I haven’t done a lot of reading and I don’t feel well equipped as a leader in these times. But I do a lot of thinking. And I appreciate her and others like her because they challenge my beliefs and I feel that in these times that’s important.
— J. Cole (@JColeNC) June 17, 2020
“I love and honor her as a leader in these times. She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people,” he wrote. “I appreciate her and others like her because they challenge my beliefs and I feel that in these times that’s important.”