Princess Nokia is effortlessly charming—even on Target runs. Speaking over the phone from the Bronx, NY, Nokia recalls a recent encounter at the popular retailer, where she came across an old-school soul singing the Beach Boys to himself in a nearby aisle. “I could tell he had been through some things,” she says. “So I came up behind him and I started singing the song with him. He couldn’t believe that someone like myself, a young woman, didn’t find him off-putting or anything. He said, “You’re gonna make me cry. You made my whole day.” And I said, “I meant to.” Then I gave him a wink and walked off.” Just like that.
A scene like this isn’t hard to imagine when thinking of Princess Nokia, who has spent the better part of her career exemplifying the New York City balancing act that sees its natives being both soft and solid on the daily. Nokia, born Destiny Frasqueri and raised between Loisaida and Spanish Harlem, embraces her city’s duality in every sense. As a rapper, she can be girlish and self-deprecating, channeling her inner nerd on tracks like 2018’s mixtape-era “Kitana,” while elsewhere repping the fierce and sexy energy of hip-hop foremothers on tracks like her recent 2022 single, “Diva.” For Nokia, these traits aren’t mutually exclusive—what’s the fun in not embracing all of them?
In a world eager to pin down its artists, Princess Nokia eschews such easy categorization. “I’ve never felt like I have to conform to any standard,” she tells STYLECASTER. So far, it’s worked out for her. “I don’t have anybody making fun of me or questioning my choices because I’ve established what I believe in and how I present myself, and what I believe is normalized, beautiful and acceptable. I’ve always led with that, and so I’ve always been given that back.”
I make music for people that don’t give a damn about society’s beauty standards.
While nonconformity applies to all facets of Nokia’s artistry, it’s especially true of her self-image. “What’s helped me be confident in my artistry and myself is to not conform to societal beauty standards that women, especially in my community, feel they have to conform to out of obligation,” she adds. “I make music for people that don’t give a damn about society’s beauty standards.”
It’s true that Nokia’s fans have followed suit, making her the perfect choice for a recent collaboration with Gillette Venus on their new rendition of “The Pube Song,” which touts the goal of normalizing body hair down there in support of the brand’s Pubic Hair & Skin Collection . Up ahead, Princess Nokia tells StyleCaster all about her Gilette campaign, the habits that make her feel the most beautiful and the inspiration for her upcoming double album.
On working on “The Pube Song”
“It’s an incredible nuance of fun and song and theater, bridging mediums with a major brand that promotes women’s beauty and self-care. I just thought the entire concept was super cool. Super progressive, super funny. Super camp!
I was honored to be asked [by Gillette] in the first place. Being given the dominion to write my own material for the commercial and actually put my own voice and autonomy over something that I, too, believe in, was so affirming in my own personhood. They were so generous and supportive in allowing me to be super creative. And I knocked it out of the park in 15 minutes.”
On feeling like a “Diva”
“For me, it’s about removing myself from the public gaze and leading a life of more private solitude and stoic observation. Not to be, like, I’m a monk or anything! But I feel like a goddess and a diva when I’m spending time with nature and botany. I just find that to be the most meditative part of my life that I get to indulge in and have the privilege to have time with. I feel most beautiful when I’m being active and physical with my body; when I’m biking, when I’m gathering herbs and florals, when I am dancing, when I am meditating, when I’m praying, when I’m just allowing myself to be one with nature. I feel like that is the most integral part of being in tune with your divine higher self whether it is feminine or masculine, is just allowing yourself to be in an earthly state. It allows my vibration to be higher.
I believe in small acts of love and generosity.
I also think being a diva is also being a formidable, eloquent, kind person with humility. I treat everybody that I meet with kindness. I believe in small acts of love and generosity, I believe in being loving and warm and kind and welcoming to every path.”
On her upcoming albums
“I have a double album that I’m coming out with. [The first] one is a musical album. And one is a prayers and affirmations album. And they’re both really, really great pieces of art that coincide with each other. One is about the painstaking reality of dating and heartbreak and love, and the other one is about healing and nourishing yourself, whatever the circumstance may be. They go hand in hand. It’s a very personal, very cinematic body of music, followed by some very inspiring prose and prayers of guidance. Just like ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ and ‘Everything Sucks,’ they provide a juxtaposition of how I create art and how I express myself.”
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