Search The Line of Best Fit
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Noname refines a perfect edge on Sundial


Release date: 11 August 2023
Noname - Sundial cover
11 August 2023, 09:00 Written by Noah Barker

A second feels like a lifetime but five years is no time at all – Noname knows this.

As Sundial progresses, there seems to be no limit to what knowledge Noname possesses, and this isn’t due to the Chicago rapper being the little girl with her hand always raised in class poised to answer the next question like her detractors characterize her as; there is such a gift as intuition. Live with empathy and intuition for any amount of time in the last five years and it may all run together as part of some great injustice or call to worship. Each individual point between 2018's Room 25 and Sundial was both a watershed moment in American political history and also now pristinely in the rearview. Within an excruciating blink, we’re back again.

And Sundial feels like not a moment was lost in the gap with her already polished stream of consciousness sumptuously evolving into free word association, moving speedily from one vignette to another philosophically intriguing vignette. The album pacing reflects this shift; instead of ample room for rumination, world peace and self-worth are achieved in spare moments on the fly. This does not gut them for their power, it simply maximizes the time and breadth of her subject matter. The tempo increases in time with the stakes.

Noname’s discography has become an ever-evolving list of ways to reach auditory bliss, and Sundial is a big band ensemble speeding past on a highway like the forum for social issues is Mad Max Fury Road. Part of this band is an impressive list of collaborators including the equally as relentless Billy Woods, capturing a striking moment of clarity near the end of the record; Ayoni’s sung hooks on “boomboom” and “oblivion” are indulgently gorgeous and make for some of the catchiest refrains of 2023. However, the controversial inclusion of Jay Electronica induces a frightened stare when he begins rapping about numerous conspiracy theories ranging from the Rothschilds to the war in Ukraine being a Jewish hoax. Needless to say, the soapbox provided for this on such a project can sour the message for many in a time of increasing antisemitic violence.

Her striking lyrical flow has become more relentless but comes off more like a constant drip of honey than an imposing assault, at least sonically. On the other hand, the subject matter of the lyrics is rife with Socratic lines of moral questioning and political comedy. Every track excels in a topical focus that will not be spoiled or summarized by the deadline-watching eyes of a critic. They are to be found and grappled with individually, or communally, if that’s your thing.

The gift of intuition lays the whole world bare, all can be felt and observed in the most personalized ways. After “oblivion” and its message of “When the world blow up that’s it/motherfucker I don’t care, I’m gonna talk my shit” resonates into the dark, a clear picture of an artist is left, if ever there was one: we are five years closer to doomsday than we were, and there is dignity in the descent.

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