Princess Nokia: Straight outta New York

Mark Thompson photos

Destiny Frasqueri, better known as Princess Nokia, held the Rad Marquee stage at midnight with unusual power for a self-described nerd. Though she’s obviously got herself a stylist now, some of her early videos showed a kid with glasses and baggy clothes rapping about memes and Game of Thrones. She was quite confident in those videos, and in a sense proud of her wonky temperament, which meant something given her impoverished, abusive childhood.

She made good on that image about halfway through her show when she brought out an interpreter and explained how important Japan was to her and “people like me” when she was a kid. The manga and anime she consumed helped her make sense of the world. “I love you Japan,” she said. “You made my life better.”

And she made the Red Marquee better. After Kendrick’s show, it would be hard to come up with a hip-hop concert that could compare, but Nokia’s was more personal and therefore more powerful. We were surprised she didn’t do anything from her new emo album (more nerdness). Essentially, she channeled her feminist, bisexual persona into freestyle raps that, while probably not connecting literally with the audience, definitely connected viscerally and emotionally. She was so on top of the situation that the audience responded to it as pure entertainment, even if they didn’t necessarily know the stuff she was presenting. The best show of the weekend.