In case you need a clue as to what this Princess is into, she lets you know right away by her name, celebrating the titan of mobile telephones in the ’90s. Just like those phones made by her namesake, Princess Nokia is one tough cookie.
This is the new guise of Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, who a few years ago was known as Wavy Spice. The Spanish Harlem resident has cooked a melting pot of hip-hop, retro electronica, and odd samples, topped with her charisma. With beats courtesy of OWWWLS, the music reminds us of the decade when generation X ruled. Rave breakbeats, downtempo marches, and even mangled drum ‘n’ bass act as backdrops for Nokia to talk about love, cartoons, acceptance, and even Game of Thrones. Her heavily-accented vocals oscillate between melodic singing, skillful rapping, and everything in between; she’s undeniably charismatic when she steps up to the mic. You won’t confuse this Princess with anybody else.
“Seraphims” features breakbeats as if Prodigy were producing the track, while “Biohazard Butterfly” has all the trappings of trip-hop: a slow grunge-y beat, record scratching, and wah guitars. For “Dragons,” one of the first songs Destiny released under her Princess Nokia name, she uses a jungle break and open synth chords. Not everything on the record is a throwback to the ’90s, though; “Bikini Weather Corazón en Afrika” is driven by a batucada beat and connects with her Puerto Rican roots through the chants of “qué bonita bandera.”
This eclectic mix of genres is anchored by Nokia’s voice, which is arguably her best quality. Her voice, as mentioned above, is very charismatic, not only because of its color and timbre or even her inflection; she has assimilated many scales and styles from around the world in a very organic way. Sometimes, she reminds the listener of Arabian divas or Hindu ragas as much as R&B and hip-hop. The songs are richer because of her vocal stylings and it invites repeated listenings while seducing you. You simply won’t get enough of Nokia’s singing.
The album is very textured; electronics, noises, and interludes peppering their way to the end of this visit to the PN planet. Dive into a cybernetic ride of amazing music that feels like an alternate future for people who partied wearing JNCO gear.
Listen to Metallic Butterfly below.