Rising experimental hip-hop artist Princess Nokia drops an electro-rap dedication to her Taíno roots and ancestry.
Falling somewhere between the melodic song-rap of Santigold and the electronic world mashups of M.I.A., this is the first Brooklyn hip-hop artist that I’ve come across to represent for the Taíno — the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and Greater Antilles — and she does it with fire and passion.
Produced by beatsmith Paul Devro, Princess Nokia describes “YAYA” as a direct line of connection and inspiration from her Indigenous heritage:
“Yaya” is the Taino word for Great Spirit. This Song is dedicated to my Taino ancestry and indigenous upbringing. The Taino People were the original inhibitors of the Caribbean and Greater Antilles (present day Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti & Jamaica)
“YAYA” interrogates colonialism while marking a personal journey to recuperate her warrior bloodline. As she astutely observes, “history can tell you something / but they’re always lying”. The journey to recover and rediscover the lineage of forgotten indigeneity runs deep. And it produces dope music in the process.
Princess Nokia has been on a run lately. Her audacious debut full-length album, Metallic Butterfly, is a firestorm of sonic and lyrical experimentation that depicts a unique world “where hood rats, cyborgs, political revolutionaries, and spiritual mystics are one in the same”. The record is amazing (listen to it here) and it’s being hailed as “one of the most exciting and ambitious independently released albums to come out of the New York underground in a long time”. With massive love being showered on her work, and an upcoming performance scheduled at the powerhouse Afropunk Festival in New York City later in August, Nokia is fast becoming one to watch.
STREAM: Princess Nokia – “YAYA”