Princess Nokia’s New Video is a Love Letter to Hood Girls
Princess Nokia has a soft voice when she talks, breathy and full of warm light. Every ‘hood she’s ever lived in dances on her tongue: Harlem, the Bronx, Loisaida – accents weaving in and out so that you can’t pinpoint only one place where she’s from. They’re not at odds with each other, though. Rapper Destiny “Princess Nokia” Frasqueri embraces each of her communities, indulging in her vocal patterns the same way she indulges her multifaceted identity in her work. Afro-indigenous, Nuyorican, spirited bruja, queer feminist, self-described hood bitch, comic book nerd, punk, and skater girl – Princess Nokia welcomes complication. And all this complexity is working for her: after several years as a mainstay of the New York underground, Princess Nokia is next in line to break the mainstream with her album 1992 Deluxe, out today.
On its heels, Princess Nokia also dropped a poignant music video for her girls. Featuring the bombastic, bass-heavy track 'Flava,' her music video starts off with a dedication to women of color. Her voice purrs:
“Everything about you is magnificent – but you don’t even know it. So let me tell you then – it’s in your edges. The texture of your hair. When you walk down the street. Your stretchmarks and chichos. Do you know how many people want to be like you? Try to look like you? Spend millions of dollars tryna be who you are? The color of your skin, your hair, your nails – make they lips big like yours, make they skin dark like yours. First they make fun of you and then they want to be you.”
As her voice rolls over the video, lyrical and sweet, intimate scenes grace the screen. Princess Nokia and her friends style their edges with a toothbrush and gel, lounge in bed in pajamas and headscarves, dance salsa in the living room, wrap each other’s straightened hair in doobies, and commune together, laughing and listening. Later, as the track picks up, the video shifts – the girls are suddenly moving through Manhattan, dressed like Upper West Side socialites. They deserve it all – and they’re gonna go out and get it.
How often do we see the quotidian lives of women of color featured like this, in an effortless haze of comfort and beauty? 'Flava' is a world dreamed up for the hood girls who traipse in and out of the hood, often forced to skirt our identities in a society that begs for oversimplification. In this world, instead, we can be everything we want to be – running to la bodega in our batas or taking up space in opulent rooms – and both are just as glamorous.
Princess Nokia has reminded us again that yes, we can have it all. This world is ours to enjoy.
Check out 'Flava' from Princess Nokia's latest album, 1992 Deluxe, below: