Song of the Week delves into the fresh songs we just can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Noname is back and with something to say on “namesake.”
Noname has never been shy about calling out big names, and on her new track, “namesake,” the Chicago rapper disses titans of the music industry as hypocrites for working with the NFL. Spitting in a rapid-fire flow over a slinky instrumental from Slimwav, Noname specifically hits out at JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, and Beyoncé on the Sundial cut.
On the second verse, Noname makes it clear where she stands regarding Jay and his relationship with the NFL. “I ain’t fuckin’ with the NFL or JAY-Z/ Propaganda for the military complex,” she raps. “The same gun that shot Lil Terry/ Out West, the same gun that shot Senair in the West Bank/ We all think the Superbowl’s the best thing.”
Noname is referencing the Department of Defense spending tens of millions of dollars to advertise the US military during NFL games, including marches, displays for veterans, fighter jet shows, and pushing players to stand during the national anthem, which wasn’t a standard league practice before the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Besides that, back in 2019, Jay signed a partnership with the NFL despite being a vocal critic of how the league handled the anthem kneeling protests of Colin Kaepernick, who was allegedly blackballed for his actions. Kaepernick and his 49ers teammate Eric Reid first chose to kneel in protest of racial inequality and police brutality following a visit from retired Green Beret and former NFL player Nate Boyer. The protest was interpreted as disrespectful to the American flag and military by disingenuous conservatives, including then-President Trump.
She continues on the bridge by name-dropping Kendrick, Rihanna, and Beyoncé, all of whom have performed during the Super Bowl Halftime Show: “Go, Rihanna, go/ Watch the fighter jet fly high/ War machine gets glamorized/ We play the game to pass the time/ Go, Beyoncé, go/ Watch the fighter jet fly high/ War machine gets glamorized/ We play the game to pass the time/ Go, Kendrick, go/ Watch the fighter jet fly high/ War machine gets glamorized.”
Kendrick and Rihanna’s respective performances in 2022 and 2023 took place after both artists had spoken out in support of Kaepernick. Meanwhile, Bey appeared to advocate for police reform in her 2016 performance, but apparently, it wasn’t enough in Noname’s eyes.
It’s worth noting that Noname doesn’t hold herself exempt from criticism on the track, acknowledging her own hypocrisy for performing at Coachella: “Go, Noname, go/ Coachella stage got sanitized/ I said I wouldn’t perform for them/ And somehow I still fell in line.” But hey, at least she’s trying, right? And when it sounds this good, we’re definitely at least a little inclined to take her side.
— Eddie Fu