Noname's "Song 33" Calls Attention to Violence Against Black Trans Women Favorite 



Jun 18 2020


Chicago IL

In 2020 Noname, a Chicago rapper, activist, and poet, released the single titled "Song 33" to address racism in America and the Black Lives Matter movement. She specifically raps about the killings of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter activist Oluwatoyin Salau, singing, "A baby just 19/I know I dream all black/I seen her everything immortalized in tweets, all caps/They say they found her dead," she raps. "One girl missing another one go missing/One girl missing another." Salau was a 19-year-old Black trans woman who was murdered in June of 2020. Prior to the single release, Noname was one of the few celebrities who worked to bring attention to the activists' death, highlighting the importance of supporting and protecting Black cis and trans women.

Noname has been critical of her peers' lack of response to the social injustices, particularly in the Summer of 2020. J. Cole's song, "Snow on Tha Bluff," discusses an unnamed woman who posts about capitalism, white supremacy, abolition, and liberation, leading many to think it was directed at Noname. He raps, "She mad at the celebrities, lowkey I be thinkin' she talkin' 'bout me/ /Now I ain't no dummy to think I'm above criticism/So when I see something that's valid, I listen/But shit, it's something about the queen tone that's botherin' me/She strike me as somebody blessed enough to grow up in conscious environment." He goes on to say, "Just 'cause you woke and I'm not, that shit ain't no reason to talk like you better than me/How you gon' lead?".

Noname quickly responded with the succinct and poignant "Song 33". She underscores the importance of remembering the social movement goes beyond any single individual, rapping, "He really bout to write about me/When the world is in smokes?/When it's people in trees?/When George begging for his mother saying he couldn't breathe/You thought to write about me?".

The one minute and nine-second song is more than a response to J. Cole; it calls attention to the violence against Black women, which often goes unnoticed. Noname touches on the murders of Robert Fuller and George Floyd, as well as police brutality. "Song 33" encourages listeners to focus on the systemic racism that plagues society.

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How does this project help?

Timeframe For change

The long-term goal of the song it so call attention the violence against Black cis and trans women, as well as to consistently remember there is always more work to be done and to refocus on the ongoing violence against people of color.


Since the song was believed to be a response to a popular artist, J. Cole, it was discussed in circles where Noname has previously been absent. It created a conversation around violence against Black trans women, and specifically about the murder of Oluwatoyin Salau. The song was shared by other, more popular artists, allowing for it to reach a wider base, and hopefully inspire them to recognize there is always more work to be done.