“White Kids Love Hip-Hop & Brown and Black Kids Love Rock,” Princess Nokia’s New Radio Show Explores Racial Countercultures
BY: JENNA CALDWELL
"Will go out with me?" the note reads. You turn around, your flat-ironed bangs only slightly skewing your view. Your black knee-high converses perfectly match your plastic clip-in skull bow giving you the confidence you need to turn down your suitor. You rub your perfectly Blistex-ed lips together and mouth the word, "no" in his direction. Turning around, you set your too-heavy eyeliner back on the teacher, reminding yourself that you will, in fact, not settle for the classroom’s Patrick Stump, but rather its Pete Wentz.
The year is 2007. Or at least that’s where the first episode of Princess Nokia’s “Voices in My Head” radio show teleports you. “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” is the first installation of the Beats 1 six-part series, centered on the early-mid 2000s punk rock era. Narrating us through what it’s like growing up as an Afro-Latina Nuyorican teenager during this punk-rock era—a time that we all try passionately to forget by deleting myspace photos and locking away old memories—it’s needless to say that Nokia does not disappoint. She accompanies each story with a song from her playlist, dually keeping her listeners engaged.
While we may be devout listeners, people of color aren’t usually represented in the punk-rock music industry or marketed to by recording studios in the same way they are for other genres, like rap, hip-hop or R&B. This genre appears to restricted to the likes of Avril Lavigne, Hayley Williams or Brendon Urie - otherwise, white artists.
Fortunately, Princess Nokia is here to shatter this misconception, using her personal narrative as a roadmap. “[In] my experience white kids love hip-hop and Black and brown kids love rock music,” Nokia tells her viewers. “And I think the majority of all the goth kids, punk kids, ravers, emo kids, scene kids—the whole hardcore scene [that] existed in New York City was all the kids in the hood, which is really beautiful because you have all of these hood ass kids going to shows dressing in bondage clothes, dressing in those ways, in those aesthetics and it just really formulated an entire populous sub-culture around the United States of America.”
The culture surrounding this era being referred to as “emo,” short for emotional. Nokia explains why so many minority youth may have been attracted to the genre in the first place. “Brown kids carry emotion, they carry pain, they carry oppression and strife. And they carry so much that that music I think was an escapism.” From losing her mother from AIDS at a young age to being abused in the foster care system, Princess Nokia, born Destiny Frasqueri, is no stranger to using music as an escape for pain.
The feminist rapper isn’t afraid to dig into her personal life on the show either. Remembering her first high school boyfriend, a Brendon Urie look-alike with the Sconex username “Autumn2AshesXX,” Nokia describes the two of them as the “cutest emo couple in the world,” (despite having personal commitment issues to being entirely emo at the time). “I lost my virginity to System Of A Down,” she recalls. “I’m just so happy I got to experience that as a child.” Aren’t we all?
1:57:21 of pure nostalgic bliss, “Your Eyes Are Bleeding,” does not disappoint.
Stay on the lookout for Episode 2, “Caring is Creepy” a look at 2000s indie rock premiering on Sunday, February 25.
Featured photo from Beats 1 Radio Interview.