Who is Noname, the Woman at the Center of J. Cole's 'Snow On Tha Bluff' Controversy?

Cole's first release of the year has people talking

June 19, 2020

So by now we all know that J.Cole has released a song called “Snow On Tha Bluff,” and that in the song Cole responds to a since deleted call-out tweet from Chi-town native Noname. We also know that the song has received a bit of criticism from both fans and peers. But what you might not know is who Noname is.

Noname is a Chicago-based rapper, author and activists, among many other things. Both soft-spoken and quick-witted, she has spent years rising in Chicago's Hip Hop scene, sparring on tracks with friends like Saba and Chance the Rapper, while still keeping a low profile. She first got her start rapping and performing slam poetry in 2010 and gained wider recognition in 2013 for her feature on the track “Lost” of Chance the Rapper’s mixtape, Acid Rap.

She went on to release her debut mixtape, Telefone, in 2016 and her debut album, Room 25, in 2018. Celebrated for its sharp commentary on race, identity, sex and politics, Room 25 was one of the most critically-acclaimed records of 2018. She formed hip-hop trio Ghetto Sage along with fellow Chicago rappers Smino and Saba. And most recently she has launched Noname’s Book Club, which hosts meet-ups both online and in-person focusing on the works of authors of color.

While the connection to Noname and Cole’s new single was purely speculations at first, his twitter fingers did the confirming. “Some assume to know who the song is about. That’s fine with me, it’s not my job to tell anybody what to think or feel about the work. I accept all conversation and criticisms. But let me use this moment to say this. Follow @noname. I love and honor her as a leader in these times. She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people. Meanwhile a n**** like me just be rapping.”

While it seemed as though Noname was remaining mum on the matter, just two days after Cole’s single dropped she dropped her own track called “Song 33,” in which she seems respond to all the hype surrounding her in relation to the Cole’s song, taking to Twitter to announce the single’s release and share it’s lyrics.

On "Song 33,” the rapper and activist lets her rhymes do the talking, and before addressing the events that took place earlier this week she shifts the narrative back to the Black Live Matters Movement - expressing that whatever issues have transpired from Cole’s comments, they do not outweigh the importance of spreading awareness about the actual issues of systemic racism and police brutality that are plaguing our country.

She starts off calling attention to the death of Oluwatoyin Salau (referred to as Toyin), a 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist, who last week was murdered after being sexually assaulted by a man who offered her refuge in his church.

As the lyrics go on, the Chi-town native also highlights the countless other Black women who have been subjected to abuse, killed and displaced. “One girl missin’, another one go missin’/One girl missin’, another.”

She then directs lyrics at J.Cole, “He really ’bout to write about me when the world is in smokes?” Keeping it simple and straight to the point.

Continuing on to address the horrific murder of George Floyd, “when George was beggin’ for his mother/Saying he couldn't breathe, you thought to write about me?"

Shortly after the release of "Song 33," Cole tweeted a link of the song in support and to help further spread awareness of the Chicago rapper’s message.
As Noname responded to the chatter the best way she knows how, other rappers and members of the industry chose the route of social media to speak whats on their mind. Chance the Rapper, who has collaborated with both Noname and Cole, had no qualms about sharing his thoughts on the matter. “Yet another L for men masking patriarchy and gaslighting as constructive criticism."

Also when answering a tweet from a fan wanting him to weigh in on the situation, Chance once more didn’t mask his opinion. “They both my peoples but only one of them put out a whole song talking about how the other needs to reconsider their tone and attitude in order to save the world. It’s not constructive and undermines all the work Noname has done. It’s not BWs job to spoon feed us. We grown”

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