Storytelling: rap’s essence
The power of rap music, as an art form, is heavily tied in with the art of storytelling. This is defined by an individual’s ability to tell a personal story that appeals to a diverse and geographically separated audience. The more the story is authentic and heart-felt the more the listener will be able to identify and therefore absorb the message. When one is able to correctly interpret and decipher this content, he or she can empathize and be inspired by it without sharing the same experiences. Che Noir’s undeniable narrative talent makes her one of the most interesting newcomers in the entire North American Hip Hop panorama. This is why we have chosen her for Throw Up Magazine’s “Art Of Bars” Column.
Che Noir and upstate New York’s reality rap.
Previous articles we dedicated to Griselda Records and Eto already mentioned how Upstate New York (the region north of N.Y that encompasses Utica, Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester) has birthed a wave of underground MCs during the last few years who are resurrecting the golden age hardcore sound that was once a trademark in the big apple.
Che Noir was born 26 years ago in Buffalo and was heavily influenced by the music of N.Y giants such as: Nas, Jay-Z, DMX, G-Unit and Foxy Brown. Growing up in Buffalo she witnessed widespread poverty and violence. During the same period, in the state capital, the five boroughs crime figures were steadily decreasing due to gentrification and residents were forced to escape the city in search of a more affordable lifestyle. As an adolescent, prompted by the harshness of her surroundings, Che Noir began to observe carefully what was going on around her and started transposing her family life and neighbourhood woes into rhymes. She was also making beats but decided to pursue a career as a rapper at age 21. She was fully aware of her precocious talent as an MC. She was also fully aware of the difficulties that lay in her path, trying to make it in the game coming from a small city like Buffalo.
Meeting with 38.Spesh, Che Noir’s career breakthrough.
Che Noir’s musical career took a turn for the better in 2018. Prior to that she had already made a name for herself by dropping a few independently produced mixtapes, among which “Poetic Thoughts” (2016). After recording the single “Champion” ( released on her tape “Thrill Of A Hunt) in collaboration with Chicago producer Dj T- Rell, she decided to send it to 38 Spesh, a veteran rapper and producer from Rochester, hoping for feedback. The expert MC and Trust Gang CEO was instantly transfixed by her talent and asked Che Noir to immediately join him in Rochester.
38 Spesh was struck by the young rapper’s humble and mature demeanour. Therefore, after a short chat, he asked her to be a part of Trust Gang. Straight away they began work on a bunch of Che Noir solo projects, among which “Trill Of A Hunt” ( according to us one of the best albums of 2019) and “Juno” which was recently released in 2020. Che Noir also featured on many other prestigious releases such as: Trust Army, Trust Tape 3 and a banging track produced by Dj Premier on the 38 Spesh & Kool G Rap collaboration album “Son Of G Rap” (2018).
A woman in the rap game: fighting against stereotype and prejudice.
It seems that the majority of female MCs in the Hip-Hop industry today need to show off their curves and flaunt their sex appeal to achieve success. With very few exceptions, bars and content seem to have a secondary role. Che Noir was often given advice on how to dress and what stuff to rap about. She was told that her popularity would explode if she complied. However the young MC from Buffalo had no intention of doing that. She refused to change her lyrics and dress code in order to sell more records.
Che Noir’s strongest point is that she has always remained true to herself and authentic. Her lyrics seem to reflect this same authenticity as she is able to detail the struggle, the stories and the people who gravitate around her world: east side Buffalo.
Surviving these wicked streets, I got a story to tell
I got ‘Daddy Issues’ I Gotta go on Maury to tell
Made a farm and planted seeds, And dug up my crops
Niggas ain’t wanna give props I got fish tanks filled with blood from the Opps
I was ah kid when my cousin got shot ,Ain’t get ah hug from his pops
So instead he hugging the block
Bitches CNA’s, They just wanna get ‘Hot
So she fucking the same dude that’s selling drugs to her Pops
Ugh Only the streets relate
’Cause I’m no stranger to the struggle
Shit, the pain just made me humble, Calling plays and bitches fumble
Too complex for niggas So they made me to a puzzle
Keep banana clips ’cause Momma raised me in the jungle
Spitting image to Wisdom & Destiny’s Child Skin is Ebony-Brown
It’s African rooted My flesh is a crown
Stephanie’s child They pressure me now
Cause I’m the one they mention when they ask “Who the best from the town?”
Che Noir – “Sharp Steel” Ft. 38 Spesh & El Camino
(from38 Spesh’s “5 Shots” Ep 2019)
Che Noir, student of the hood
Che Noir is distinguished by her ability to analyse in detail the social context that surrounds her consisting of poverty, violence and family issues. She is able to paint vivid pictures with her rhymes, therefore the listener is invariably attracted and made to identify. Che Noir has also graduated successfully from college despite her humble background. This has enabled her to include deep and intelligent metaphors in her lyrics. (ex. “When it’s time to eat don’t let greed mess up your diet !!!” )
To be clear, in proportion, she seems to have the same narrative talent that Nas showcased in “Illmatic”. Obviously this album remains out of reach, but the “queen” of Buffalo appears to be cut from the same cloth as the “king” of Queensbridge. Che Noir is, according to us, one of the best lyricists to emerge in the past few years (including her male colleagues). Although her talent is little known she has just begun her journey and if she manages to stay focused one day the crown may be hers.