The work of Noname and Boots Riley traverses music, film, politics and activism. At the invitation of radical, non-profit book publisher Haymarket Books, the two came together to discuss those topics and more in light of the current Black Lives Matter protests.
The two creatives discussed the question of revolution and incremental reform in relation to the ongoing wave of protests. In the nearly two-hour discussion, Noname and Riley debate methods of organizing, and what it means to take a truly radical approach to dismantling systems of oppression. They discussed in particular the calls to either reform or defund the police in response to ongoing police violence against Black people.
Haymarket also took in questions from listeners on Noname and Riley’s approaches to art and creativity, and how to create anti-capitalist work in a capitalist environment. Noname shared the process of her own radicalization and previous attachment to Black capitalism and entrepreneurship.
Chicago-based rapper Noname released her highly anticipated debut full-length album Room 25 in 2018. She also recently launched Noname’s Book Club, which hosts both online and in-person meet-ups and focuses on the works of authors of color. Listeners have suspected that J. Cole’s recent track “Snow On Tha Bluff” was a dig at the activist musician, with many taking to Twitter to criticize J. Cole’s lyrics against her.
Boots Riley has mixed music and local activism since he founded hip-hop group The Coup in 1991. The Oakland-based musician gained critical acclaim for his 2018 film Sorry to Bother You, which he both wrote and directed.
Watch the full conversation between Noname and Boots Riley above. In related news, see the Black Lives Matter mural that recently went up in Brooklyn.