“I see them talking on the IG. I think you’re jealous, maybe high-key,” Princess Nokia raps in her latest single. The 27-year-old’s new track comes two years after the release of her well-received mixtape-turned-album 1992 Deluxe, and her follow-up emo EP, A Girl Cried Red. In similar fashion to previous videos, she opts for the poetic, performative style, and lures you in with her penetrating eyes. With a throbbing, captivating beat and breathless bars that shuts out haters and celebrates her wins, she re-introduces herself after a hiatus that allowed for polishing.
Here we see an ever-confident Nokia, born Destiny Frasqueri, take the beauty pageant world by storm with a frank attitude, and ‘fits that flip-flop between her tomboy, girly-girl aesthetics, while she pays tribute to Santeria and Afro-Latinas. The classy, dreamy film format her team opts for allows for an old-school feel in which we peer through her altering glasses, exposing us to a pageant in which women of color reign supreme. Frasqueri also takes a moment to establish herself as a role model in the act’s finale – paving the way for little girls who look like her to find themselves, whole and bold, in the stage of their choosing.
“I’m not a political activist. I’m not,” she tells Cultured. “I’m a healer.” Giving herself time after a successful takeoff rather than trying to ride that wave, Nokia evidently could care less about industry imposed timelines and agendas. This next phase of her artistry, she says, will “center her role as a healer and bruja.”
In the two-and-a-half minute song, “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.)” addresses everything from soul talk, to her inspiring soup-throwing incident, chews out domestic abusers and racists, and seamlessly squeezes in a shout out Colin Kapernick (porque why not).
The Uptown-based artist sings “I don’t like drama, it’s dumb.” Still, drama seems to like her. In a teaser Nokia shared three days prior to the song’s release, La Goony Chonga, a Miami MC once described as “Cardi B swerves hard into a trap-reggaeton hybrid,” claimed there was a resemblance between S.H.I.T.’s visuals and those in her 2017 video for “Modelo.”
Princess Nokia basically said not today, and responded with a comment that effortlessly swerved from cordial to unapologetic drag. “Always thought your music was ‘cute’ and I’ve been friendly to you in the past, but if you think that this 7 second clip is any way copying you, [you’re] drastically reaching,” Nokia said. “Not to be an asshole but your video is a cheap beauty pageant with white latinas in bad prom dresses,” she signed off with. “We are not the same.”
The entire exchange was unfortunate and unnecessary considering neither of their videos is the first, or last, time this theme is used. This is the moment I stand on my two-step stool, grab a megaphone and whisper – Por si no lo sabían: There’s enough room for everyone to flourish.