+1 646 490 9434

The rapper and singer is able to comment on an approach to fashion that hasn’t had much recognition in the music scene.

New York rapper Princess Nokia has a brand new single out, called “Balenciaga.” Over a mid-tempo beat, Nokia flexes her frugal fashion statements in the face of designer clothing:

“Sketchers looking like Balenciaga / Thrift clothes looking like the Prada / Whole fit lit, it cost me nada / B*tches always talking, I give them all nada.”

The rapper and singer is able to comment on an approach to fashion that hasn’t had much recognition in the music scene since Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thriftshop” in 2012. While Nokia’s cadence is less playful than the aforementioned entertainers, the message of autonomous meaning-making remains the same. 

“This song is about the fun I’ve always had taking designer concepts and recreating them with imagination and personality,” Nokia said in a statement. “It’s about weird, off-kilter fashion and the blurred lines between fashion and style. It’s not anti-designer at all…it’s just a song about practicality and comfortability with one’s self. It’s about non-conformity and not taking fashion too seriously. The underlying theme I realized was about not caring what people think and dressing for yourself.”

Her song calls out the mainstream appeal of aligning oneself with the counterculture brand

Princess Nokia, whose offstage name is Destiny Frasqueri, suggests that the creativity one imbues into an outfit is a more veritable measurement of personal style than adorning oneself with the accoutrements of ready-to-wear garb. What’s interesting about Frasqueri’s lyrics is her use of the brand Balenciaga, which is known as a subversive fashion house. Her song calls out the mainstream appeal of aligning oneself with the counterculture brand online, as “dressing for hype” and “likes.” This popular approach to the alternative brand corrupts the philosophy of subversion, which is acknowledged as behaving in a way that goes against the norm. It’s in this headspace of cognitive dissonance that consumers, myself included, begin to go a little mad. This unfolds onscreen throughout Frasqueri’s choreography where she dances in an interpretative style while stripping her clothes off, possibly alluding to the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes.

What’s different is the inhibition expressed toward equating the monetary value of a brand’s identity to one’s personal identity.

This mature lens through which Frasqueri sees society could be accredited to her New York upbringing, which is underscored as being an adolescent in characteristically adult scenarios. (At age two, Frasqueri lost her mother to AIDS. Between the ages of 9 and 16, she was in foster care. During her time in foster care, her foster mother was physically abusive.)  It seems Frasqueri developed a sense of personal agency at a young age and let that quality positively evolve with her as an adult with an acute eye for individual style and flair. The message in her song renders an inspirational theme of self-assurance.

Fashion acts as a neutral party, it is important for us as cultural players to stay aware of how its reputation is framed within music and media.

My generation, Gen Z, seems to be polarized between conservation and consumption. On one hand, there are the Kylies and the Arianas. On the other, there’s Greta Thunberg. Princess Nokia’s sentiment is particularly important for younger listeners who need a more balanced message from celebrities. Mixed messages regarding the two topics only divide members of the young audience further. Fashion acts as a neutral party, playing a role that’s neither good nor bad, but important for us as cultural players to stay aware of how its reputation is framed within music and media.