Princess Nokia's lockdown listening: 'Performing is always a little unnatural'

The New York rapper has been revisiting the sweet R&B sounds that dominated her city at the turn of the millennium

The situation is giving me a lot of anxiety, but other than that I can’t begin to tell you how lazy I am sometimes and how much I just love being home. I’ve been spending the time doing what I always do, honestly: cooking, cleaning, choring at home. I don’t live this ostentatious life. TV is my guiltiest pleasure, it’s the best way I like to enjoy my time. I’ve watched all of #blackAF and Never Have I Ever. I do and don’t miss performing. It takes a lot out of me, so if I can be home I actually prefer it. It’s always a little unnatural, and the only thing I really love about tour is being on stage and connecting with people. I don’t like travelling and sleeping in hotels.

But I’ve been working quite a lot. I’ve been in a really creative space, and it’s been really wonderful to actually be able to work, to have the privilege of making new music which I’m really excited about. I already released two albums this year so maybe there’ll be a third. I certainly think something very powerful is coming, unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I’m having a lot of fun doing it.

I’ve been listening to a lot of music from back in the day as opposed to new music. I like new music too, don’t get me wrong, but when the summertime hits New York City, it’s just a different type of time, and that time is super nostalgic, super 90s, super 2000s. I’ve been having a really good time revisiting all this music and chilling, feeling different things and getting different vibrations from it.

Ashanti – Happy ft Ja Rule

Ashanti: Happy ft Ja Rule – video

This is from her debut album. It puts me in the best mood – it reminds me of being 10 years old, which is awkward for me actually – I wasn’t really responding to this music at the time the way my peers were, but I’ve been really listening to it recently and appreciating it so much. It makes me feel so happy, so carefree, so beautiful. It’s like the perfect summer anthem.

Amerie – Why Don’t We Fall in Love

Amerie: Why Don’t We Fall in Love – video

Amerie is one of my favourite R&B singers. Her three albums are such a timeless segue of the early 2000s. This song is my perfect summertime song to be driving around with a cute man in a car, getting some sunshine and going to the beach. It still gives you that feeling even when you can’t go and do it. I feel like I’m in a fantasy.

N’Sync – Girlfriend ft Nelly

N’Sync: Girlfriend ft Nelly – video

I’ve loved N’Sync since I was little. They had some of the best pop and R&B production of all time, in my opinion. Each album has such different styles; Girlfriend is just the perfect pop, R&B and hip-hop blend. It makes me feel sexy! And just reminds me of a very unique time in music and art.

Mariah Carey and Cam’ron – Boy (I Need You)

Mariah Carey and Cam’ron: Boy (I Need You) – video

This is my idea of love and romance. This song makes me feel like I’m in high school and I have the biggest crush on someone. The video is an incredible Japanime-style aesthetic, it’s really something else.

Santana – Maria Maria

Santana: Maria Maria ft the Product GB – video

I have loved this song since I was a little girl. It’s one of the most sentimental songs from my childhood – it kind of reminds me of my life story because I’m from Spanish Harlem and it’s about a beautiful woman from Harlem who goes to Hollywood in LA to make it big. It had so many elements of me in it.


Interview by Kate Solomon

The GuardianTramp

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