Why Noname Gypsy is Chicago's Jay Electronica

Photo by Rene Marban

Photo by Rene Marban

Noname Gypsy is the Jay Electronica of Chicago. I mean this both critically and with significant praise and respect. Let me explain. 

First and foremost: Noname Gypsy has mentioned Jay Electronica twice in her last three songs, including "Dizzy", which has since been removed from her SoundCloud. The talented lyricist and wordsmith draws further comparisons after realizing the two have both been teasing their respective debut projects for years with no release date in sight. With all of this in mind, I felt it necessary to draw comparisons to Noname and Jay, two talents who play the game by their own rules, who release music sporadically and consistently, who remain relevant even after months of public inactivity.

Hardly an insult, the two seem to be comprised of this energy and talent that regardless of how long they go ghost, the public still finds them pertinent when they release new material. I haven't heard any murmurs from Jay Elect in quite some time, but you know damn well that if he dropped something right now, every blog and music publication would be drooling all over it. Such is the case for Noname, who dropped the single "Take You Back" alongside Via Rosa and Akenya in May of 2014 and followed that up with "Dizzy" (which came produced by TDE affiliate Tae Beast) in August of the same year. Following those two singles was fifteen months of nothing new. Sure, Noname performed at shows and recorded plenty, but no new solo material was released. In fact, both of the aforementioned tracks ended up being removed from SoundCloud. Initial singles scrapped for something new, something fresh, but what and when?

A casanova with catalogs of his dinner dates / make me feel special, Jay Electro soul / I need a n**** to follow me to the rabbit hole.”
— "All I Need"

The quick hiatus didn't seem to matter, though, as Noname released the journal entry-esque “Open Apology” two months ago and the metaphorical crowd went wild. While she had a significant amount of time in between singles, she somehow managed to garner a loyal and intrigued fan base, one that most assuredly started with her memorable verse on Chance's Acid Rap back in 2013. Remaining relatively silent for an amount of time that could be career suicide for plenty of struggling artists within the Windy City, Noname lost no momentum or followers, tweeting simply, “This isn't a single. It's an #OpenApology” and receiving almost 1,000 retweets. When the song finally dropped, every Chicago blog (and beyond) ran rampant. And of course they did: the track featured Saba and showed Noname spitting her near-spoken word wisdom over Saba and Carter Lang's jazzy production. The smooth and honest number instantly made fans forget about the quiet months.  

Somebody tell Jay Electronica that I love him / it’s 3:00 PM and the sun is out....Somebody tell Jay Elect that I’m waitin’ / Nah, I’m playin’ / I’m waitin’ for my Mister Man / For the sippy cups on the floor of the mini van.”
— "Dizzy"

Since dropping "Open Apology", Noname followed up with "All I Need", a single featuring SPZRKT that remains lost in time. Even down to the artwork by Nikko Washington. Will these two new songs be on Noname Gypsy's long-awaited debut release, Telefone? Is Telefone around the corner? It was close in 2014, and the "coming soon" promise might still be the case, but are we any steps closer? If you peer at her SoundCloud, you would think so. Having just released two songs in the last two months, Noname has removed everything else from her account, focusing on these two pieces. This might be perceived as a good sign, as these two will most likely (hopefully) be the lead singles for something larger. But the question remains: will we get Telefone in 2016? She tells someone yes on Twitter. Will these loose singles she's been delivering be part of Telefone? The public is uncertain, but she promises she won't delete them.

Like Kanye and Frank Ocean and, yes, Jay Electronica, Noname Gypsy gets clumped into a small group of hip-hop artists who can take their time with releases without having the public lose interest. From what I can gather, Noname can take another half-decade and people will still listen. That being said, we're all waiting patiently and eagerly for something properly packaged from the Chicago wordsmith (and the New Orleans prophet), who both seem to dazzle and delight with every new single, so bright they shine that we can only imagine what the two are capable of crafting when honing in on something more fleshed out. Here's to receiving Telefone (and Act II: Patents of Nobility) in 2016. Please.

Telefone delight, love is all I need.”
— "All I Need"

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