Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I-I have to start
with the question that has been plaguing me,
the people in the building, and, like, random people
I speak to about the show. -Okay.
-Your name, your rap name. -Right.
-No… Noname. -Yes.
-It confuses a lot of people. -Mm-hmm.
-Because they see “Noname,” and then, people would be like,
“Wait. Who’s the guest?” -(laughter) -And…
and they’d be like… -Right. “Why didn’t you get
the guest’s name?” -And I’m like,
“No, it’s Noname.” -Yeah. And they’re like, “Yeah,
but who’s-who’s the name?” The name is me. I am… I am the name.
It’s a really terrible name. I couldn’t think of anything… clever like… “Baby” or “Stallion”
or whatever. -Uh… I mean, I’m not…
-But I feel like you were… you were intentional with it. It’s… It feels like
a little bit of who you are. Like, you-you… -You know, you’re an independent
artist. -Right. You know, I’ve noticed, like,
none of your clothing I’ve ever seen has any labels
or anything on it. It… Is that, like, your vibe? Except for Converse,
but yes, yeah, I’m very… -You’re non-descript? -Very
non-descript, very low-key. Um… try not to promote any brand
outside of myself… -Right.
-because I know… I know I’m not giving money
to ICE -and other things
that people fund, so… -Right. Um, yeah, it’s-it’s easier
this way. -It’s, like, minimal,
it’s clean. -Uh-huh. You compliment me.
I-I like these things. Oh, okay. Good. No. I like… I wonder if you’re ever gonna
have to be, like, the artist know as “Noname,”
or, like, the… If people… No, ’cause-’cause
people are gonna be like, “Noname.” They’re gonna be like,
“We need, like, a bit of, uh, -like, a thing ahead of it,
you know?” -Yeah. The rapper know as “Noname.”
Uh… -The book reader. Noname.
-Noname. -Yeah. -Yes. That is
an interesting aspect of your journey
that is completely unique. -You’re an independent artist,
right? -Yes. Before we go to the book,
let’s talk about that. Has it become easier
to become… to be an independent artist
in today’s age of, like, SoundCloud
and everything? Absolutely. I think not so much SoundCloud anymore.
Shouts out to SoundCloud. -Y’all put me on it. Um…
-(laughter) But I think
because of the Internet, because of social media,
it’s a lot easier if you can figure out a way
to, uh, like, galvanize people in your…
in your local area -and create a local fanbase.
That’s what I did. -Right. Uh, extremely helpful. Um, but, yeah, you-you can directly contact
your fan base, and I think that’s what helps
the most for me. Um, and what other
reasons why… Yeah, I think that’s about it. Social media,
’cause without social media, I don’t think
it would be possible. That’s part of the reason
you started your book club. -Right.
-Right? It was a really organic
beginning of a book club. You were just reading a book. Yeah, I was. -And somebody tweeted you
about it. -Right. So I was reading–
I was reading this book, um, called Cooperation Jackson,
about, like, cooperatives, um, specifically one
in Jackson, Mississippi. And someone tweeted me, like, “Yo, let’s be pen pals.
I’m reading the same book.” And then I… I was high, and I just–
I posted it and was like, “Oh, my God, I should create
a book club.” So, yeah, I, uh…
(laughs) -I created a book club.
-(applause) Um… Thank you. I-I smoke a lot of weed. Um, but, no, yeah,
so that’s how it happened. And I, like, I kind of polled it
on my– on my page to see if people
would be into it. And I thought–
I think the re– the-the tweet got, like,
5,000 retweets. And I was like,
“Okay, well, maybe, maybe at least half
of these people will follow the account,
but then… thousands more were like,
“Oh, my God, we like, we like reading
and we like rappers.” I feel like this is a beautiful
journey for you to be on because your mom has a history
with books as well. Like, a really intimate
relationship with books, right? She does, yeah. She owned a bookstore
in Chicago for 20 years. Um, it was called
Afro Central bookstore. And so that’s kind
of how I grew up. I grew up in a space
around books, even when I-when I, uh,
like, transitioned and I got older, I spent a lot
of my time in a library. That’s where I, uh– There’s this program in this
library called You Media, and I was able to, um, start
recording and rapping there. But-but, yeah, no, she, uh– Being in that space is kind
of why I’m-I’m still doing it. Like, it started as an impulse,
but then, as I was going, there were so many other reasons
to keep it going. Um, one thing
that we’re trying to do is incentivize people
to shop locally. So, yes, you can participate
in the book club online, but we really encourage
our readers to shop at these, uh,
POC-owned bookstores that we have in our directory. Um, so it’s like, it’s a little
bit of a (bleep) you to Amazon, and kind of
a (bleep) you to, like, -the FBI a little bit on some…
-(laughing) You know what I mean? Well, no, like, uh… Like, you know,
COINTELPRO, they– what they,
what they did to, like, destroy black
bookstores and shit, so… -Right. So you’re trying to
invigorate… -So I’m like… -Yeah. Let’s bring it,
let’s bring it back. -Yes. I mean, there was a…
there was a, like, a wave and-and, like, uh,
I guess a newness when it came
to-to bookstore ownership amongst, uh, African Americans
in, like, the ’90s. -Mm-hmm. -Like, that’s when
my mom opened up her store, and it was wildly successful
because, um… like, political rap
was really in, and people were very conscious, and everyone was like,
“We finna buy a kufi, and we finna buy this-this,
like, Cornel West or whatever.” Um, now it-it’s like, “We’re just gonna order
these things on Amazon.” Which is cool,
but I think it’s, like, it’s important to be
in the space, you know? Do you think that that’s
something that you feel like rap needs to get
a little bit more of again, is just that idea of, like,
reading being cool? -Well, I think… -You know?
‘Cause I remember, like, when I was growing up,
like, Tupac. -I always knew that Tupac read.
-Right. It was, like, a thing that
he always, like, spoke about. -A lot.
-And it felt like in rap, there were a lot of rappers
who were like, “Oh, I read this,
and I read this, and I know…” And then there was a period
of rap where it was like, “Nah, man. It’s all…
it’s all in the head, man. -I don’t read.”
-Yeah. And it feels like now,
maybe, you, you know, you’re part of a generation
that’s going like, “No, no, we’re coming back
to reading again.” I would…
I would even take a step further and be like, it’s not… I wouldn’t specifically put it
on the culture. Like, I don’t think
it’s rappers. I think generally people
are just not reading. -Interesting.
-And I think specifically there’s been communities
that have been targeted, um, when it comes to,
uh, the lack thereof. Either bookstores or schools that are actively,
like, um… allowing their kids
to-to compete -and to completely be literate.
-Right. I think most people
in the communities that I am in
and that I come from, um, they don’t really have
a choice because of the way that their surrounding community
is set up when it comes to reading. So, yes, it’s kind of like,
you know, rappers are not necessarily
promoting books, but no one, I think,
really is promoting books. And that’s why
you’re doing it now. -Yeah, I’m…
-Which is exciting. -Yeah.
-You got the book club, -and you got the rap going.
-(cheering and applause) Right. I feel like… I feel like the perfect
combination of all of this is you need to start
rapping the books -or rapping the book club thing.
-No. No. -No? -I should just get
your book and just, like… -I’ll take that, then.
-♪ I was born a crime ♪ -♪ Now I’m Trevor Noah. ♪ -Yeah,
see, I like that. Be like… ♪ Once upon a time. ♪ And then that’s all I remember
from the book for now, -but I, uh…
-That’s-that’s awful. -I’ll work on that.
-No, yeah, yeah. And you carry on
with what you’re doing. You should…
you should suggest a book, ’cause we do, like,
we do, like, uh, like, uh, Let the Homie Pick. -So we have different people…
-I will do that. -Yeah.
-I will be the homie that picks. -Thank you so much for being
on the show. -Absolutely. -Thank you for having me.
-Wonderful having you. For more information
about Noname’s Book Club, check out NonamesBook.com. NonameBooks.com