After listening to Princess Nokia’s 1992 mixtape, you get a feel for the New York-based rapper: a gritty, skate punk, Afro-Latina feminist. She’s always been vocal about her identity as an Afro-Latina, often illustrating that through tracks like “Brujas”:
“I’m the black a rican Bruja straight out from the Yoruba/ and my ancestors Nigerian/ my grandmas was brujas/ and I come from an island called Puerto Rico/ it’s one of the smallest but it got the most people.”
Story: Zara Hurtado || Photo Credit: Jasmine Matos/Mario Carrion
The accompanying video is a beautiful representation of brujeria, superstitions and Afro Latina sisterhood, a narrative that only Princess Nokia can tell.
Being a Latina myself, I understand the struggles with colorism and prejudice that exist in our communities. I’m so here for Princess Nokia bringing a voice to the Afro-Latina experience for that reason. The Afro-Latina identity is one that often gets glossed over, with people assuming you’re either Black or Latina, ignoring the fact that you can be both.
As a direct way to combat that, Princess Nokia has made herself a big name in New York’s hip-hop scene. Last summer she performed at the 2016 Afro-Latino festival in Brooklyn, a multi media festival that explores what it means to identify as Afro-Latino/a. With songs like “Brujas” which alludes to brujeria practices, or “Mine,” a celebration of hair, Nokia never holds back and wants to make sure you don’t forget about this bruja.
“It’s important for people to identify as Afro-Latino and to come to spaces like this … to demolish the racism and segregation that still exists in modern Afro-Latino and Caribbean countries,” Nokia said in an interview with Latina Magazine. “I think once we start reclaiming these special things about our Afro-Latino culture, the things that make up our differences, it gives us a light to open up to ourselves, culturally.”
A strong feminist, Nokia posts a podcast on SoundCloud called Smart Girl Radio. The podcast is a platform for poetry, music, discussions on womanhood and a safe space for women to vent. With themes like “I’m Brown and I don’t give a fuck,” you know that she really doesn’t give a fuck. Past topics on her podcast include The Manifesto of a Successful Bitch, Goddess Workshops and Coven: The Importance of Your Closest Sisters.
The importance of having podcasts that center a whole episode about being proud to be brown is that it empowers those listening. Being a person of color, I’ve seen firsthand how brown women being loud is perceived “ghetto.” I know firsthand how women of color need to conduct ourselves in a certain way to avoid being called “bitch.” So to have a hip-hop artist with such a big platform come out as an adamant advocate for women of color, this is huge.
Speaking on the experience of brown girls, hairy girls, tomboys and queer women, Princess Nokia is creating a space for women in hip-hop that we haven’t seen until now. Her music is creating a pocket for women who maybe don’t feel as edgy as Rihanna or women who don’t see themselves in Jhene Aiko. With her lessons on womanhood, female energy, urban feminism and Afro-Latina identity, Princess Nokia is helping to create a space for other self-proclaimed brujas or queer women to come up in hip-hop.
Princess Nokia takes her views of urban feminism on the road, presenting at colleges such as the University of Sussex, doing interviews with feminist magazines like Paper, hosting poetry readings and is in the process of revamping Smart Girl Radio. If you want to keep up with Princess Nokia and learn more about urban feminism, follow her here.