What Would Julian Rafael Hassan Roden Do?


"Telefone" EP Review [@noname]

As someone who obsesses about death (involuntarily and for various reasons) I was taken aback when I first digested Telefone. It's morbidly elegant and quite thorough straight through. I first heard No Name (Formerly known as No Name Gypsy) on "Lost" from Chance The Rapper's Acid Rap like a lot of people. I paid attention to a few one off tracks of her's when I was really plugged into the Chicago music scene, but was waiting for a full length effort to make a decision on whether or not I could call myself a fan. Well, here we are and yes I am. The cover Artwork by Nikko Washington offers the same juxtaposition of beauty upon the subject of death as the melodic music. How could I not be a fan of this? It's cohesive and has a clear theme that's executed with skill and grace.

Speaking of grace this 10 track project sounds like God. It's got gospel vibes and sounds like church but not in a pretentious way. The effect is there by way of instrumentation and amazing vocal features. It doesn't feel forced. It feels natural. I'm transported back to my childhood when the ladies in the huge hats would be waving their paper fans at breakneck speeds to combat the heat.  But then I remember I'm supposed to be at a funeral as the tone of the lyrics suggest. This is an Artist with a very detrimental message she wishes to get across. The toll of the deaths that have reached her and her loved ones inspired "Telefone" and her not wanting it to ring with bad news. This is a weight many in Chicago bear. Most of them Black or Hispanic. So if anything I hope this project acts as therapy for those who hear it. It's helping me cope. I think there's something that needs to be done when there are "too many babies in suits" as stated on Casket Pretty. That shit just straight up hurt. But it's a reality of this place. The music reflects this. I'm sure Nina Simone would be proud of how No Name's Art mirrors the times. I am.

I really love Telefone. I do. I wish it didn't have to exist. But what is, is. Cops are killing Black People every 28 hours and Black people are killing other Black people at twice that rate. Til we as a society want to make a change Telefone is going to remain an accurate artifact of Artistic importance and I believe this should be mandatory listening for every Black woman in Chicago, if not across America. Because guess what? It's happening all over.  Praying for Chicago wasn't enough so won't you hear her cries? Those beautiful cries of prose and emotion. I know I'm keeping this in my rotation until it no longer is a reality. Will you?

Julian Roden