Released July 31, 2016
Reviewed July 29, 2021
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Diddy Bop (62%), Shadow Man (56%), Yesterday (39%)
Heaven and Hell are metaphysical places, or states of existence on planet Earth, in Noname's poetically perfect mixtape debut, Telefone. Initially released to Soundcloud in 2016, fans waited years to hear these ten songs, as Noname had grown her legend off the occasional single or feature verse. Noname's gift is the instantaneously distinct tone of her music and flow. With relentless and dizzying flows, her words are spun together with understated emotion and bold mental imagery that leaves listeners with a crystal clear understanding of each song's themes and sentiments.
From the opening seconds, Noname's music fades into frame like a dream state, built entirely of subconscious feelings and memories. By embracing the equally comforting and unsettling act of reflecting, reminiscing, and reckoning with adolescent experiences, Noname presents a psychologically intriguing compound of memoirs. Instrumentals on Telefone either feel suspending in their weightless bliss or burdening in more vividly depressive moments on the album. All the difficulty of capturing such innate beauty in song disappears behind the seamless application of talent. Cam O'bi, Phoelix, Noname, and a few others appear to inspire each other profoundly, having created something in Telefone that is so picturesque in totality.
It’s easy to take boundary pushing talent for granted when it’s displayed with such comfort and ease. Noname’s Telefone fits such a billing, with a grossly underrated status despite being one of the best rap debuts of all time. There simply wasn't anything quite like her before, and the same can be said five years later. – DeVán (10/10)
Noname’s quirkiness and aptitude for detail shines through on her debut album, Telefone. But, she successfully avoids the nauseatingly kitchy pitfalls of typically eccentric and stylized media (think Wes Anderson) and shows why she’s a force to be reckoned with in modern Hip-Hop. Telefone’s charm is only matched by its substance, allowing for either a critical, analytical experience or a more modest, lighthearted endeavor. This balance between a bubbly sound and wise sociological themes is reminiscent of other historically rallying music; powerful and provocative, but sonically uplifting in the vein of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. The content is at times micro-focused, harping on specific memories and calling back on Noname’s youth, but progressively zooming out finds that many of the narratives can be applied to the world at large. This phenomena paired with Noname’s comforting voice, conversational flow, and exemplary rhyming chops makes Telefone an extremely resonant album; one that people can pull advice from and find comfort in. – Pax (9/10)
Noname’s debut mixtape Telefone is one of hip-hop’s coziest releases. From the start, an established sound was in Noname’s pocket; she knew exactly what she wanted. Telefone’s instrumentals reside in a neo-soul sphere, with luscious synths, gorgeous piano chords, and laid-back drum hits that are perfect for her to float on. She lyrically balances her personal issues with socio-political ones, to create a sharply tuned voice that pushes this album beyond just sounding pretty, but one filled with material to chew on far after its last notes ring out. – Jared (8.5/10)
DeVán: 10/10 | Pax: 9/10 | Jared: 8.5/10 | Ben (Synth): 8/10
Dominick: 8/10 | Enth: 8/10 | Cam: 7.8/10 | Peter: 7/10