Princess Nokia’s debut LP 1992 Deluxe is a love letter to New York City. Eight years after dropping her breakthrough single “Destiny” on SoundCloud (released under the moniker Wavy Spice), Destiny Frasqueri is at the forefront of a musical revolution fueled by political consciousness, unabashed feminism, and the power of realness.
Frasqueri—who now goes by Princess Nokia—grew up in East Harlem and the Bronx, and her long-awaited studio album proudly pays homage to the streets that raised her. Unlike artists who’ve jumped on the #resistance train since it’s become hip, her experiences and stories aren’t performance—she isn’t afraid to throw hot soup at drunk racists on the subway or punch sexist male fans at her shows. Frasqueri’s sound and style oozes nostalgia for the ’90s; though she cites Queen Latifah and Lil Kim as major inspirations, songs like “Tomboy” also draw undeniable influence from riot grrrl. In the track’s music video, the Black and Native rapper rocks rectangular wire eyeglasses, oversized crew necks, and gold name chains while flashing cars on a freeway overpass with friends and rapping about the magic of her pussy—it’s an anthem that unapologetically celebrates the beauty of bodies.
Frasqueri says her fascination with the ’90s is a response to the trauma of losing her mother to AIDS at three years old and being raised by an abusive foster mother for most of her childhood. Born in 1992, Frasqueri’s early ’00s were riddled with deep emotional and physical abuse, so she’s chosen to block out memories from those years. After running away at 16, Frasqueri says she was able to start living again. Almost a decade later, Princess Nokia is synonymous with self-love, rawness, and ancestral resilience. And, as Frasqueri explained in an interview with the Guardian last year, “A Princess Nokia show is this place where girls can take space in the way that men and brotherhood do.”