The moniker ‘Noname’ has been splashed across social media feeds all week due to an ongoing saga with J. Cole, and now Chance The Rapper is defending her name. But who is Noname, what’s her claim to fame, and what’s the source of this brewing rap beef with J. Cole?
28-year-old Chicago rapper, poet, and producer Fatimah Warner is the vocal and outspoken woman behind the alias. She’s also the alleged “young lady” whose “timeline” J. Cole scrolled through before penning his subtle reproach to her comments on “Snow On Tha Bluff.” Her early efforts have received rave reviews, boasting an album, mixtape, and features with the likes of Chance the Rapper and Mick Jenkins.
Last month, she tweeted about top-selling rappers whose discographies be about black plight but were notably absent for #BlackLivesMatter protest, which many fans speculated was a jab at Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. When the latter dropped “Snow On Tha Bluff” late Tuesday night, confessing his inadequacies yet coming for Noname’s crown and “queen tone,” the subtweet context was all too obvious, and fans have been dragging the Lafayette native ever since. Noname has since acknowledged the release, tweeting a cryptic message, “QUEEN TONE!!!!!!” before quickly deleting the post and sending fans and the Twitterverse into a feedback frenzy.
J. Cole responded to the reactions by saying he “stands behind every word of the song dropped last night,” which essentially mocked Noname’s critical tenor, insisting that she exercise patience in her teachings of Black men. “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,” he said in a Twitter thread on Wednesday.
Journalists, influencers, and the entire Twitterverse have clapped back at the track and rationale, labeling Cole as tone-deaf, misogynistic, offensive, and sexist, with the ire now registering among fellow musicians. Chance The Rapper, who has worked with both artists in the past, entered the group chat and came to his Chicago cohort’s defense. “Yet another L for men masking patriarchy and gaslighting as contsructive criticism,” he shared. “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.”
When asked why he didn’t approach Cole “like a man,” away from all the eyeballs, he clapped back with “U mean like how he privately addressed Noname? He ended the Twitter tit for tat with “We can have different points of view on things. I’m not tearing anyone down, I just think it was wrong to make a song about her. I can’t feel any other way about it.”
Fellow Chicago rapper Earl Sweatshirt also stepped in to add his two cents. He mentioned “Black women’s searing pain” that makes Cole’s comments especially callous and insensitive at this time, citing the recent murder of 19-year-old Black female activist Oluwatoyin Salau. He also called out the fans who see Cole as their “elected representative” despite his shortcomings and pointed out that Noname started a “real life, in the flesh book club” to educate people on the cause.
J. Cole’s manager, Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad, has also weighed in, claiming that his artist is “not under attack lol some people disagree with his message, or disagree with how he went about it or just don’t like him already and I respect that. I know what the intention of his message was and I agree with him, I think some people see it differently and that’s fine.”
Still, this saga isn’t going away anytime soon, and there’s a good chance that Noname will respond, whether in a song or a statement. This is one of few times that J. Cole comes under criticisms since his raps tend to be on the substantive side, earning him a consistent place among the top 5 of the current generation of rappers.