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Noname: Tiny Desk Concert

todayNovember 10, 2023

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Noname performs a Tiny Desk concert Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Noname performs a Tiny Desk concert Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Out of the thousand and some Tiny Desk concerts to date, it’s seldom an artist returns to the Desk. But when they do, there are a couple requirements: come in a new iteration or present something completely different. In this case, the Chicago-bred, emcee-activist Noname does both when she performs some revolutionary raps from her third album, Sundial, and premieres an unreleased single from hip-hop trio Ghetto Sage, made up of her and frequent collaborators, Smino and Saba.

A lot has changed since Fatimah Warner dropped her classic debut, Telefone, in 2016 and made her first appearance behind the Tiny Desk in 2017. She released a stunning follow-up, Room 25, and she even briefly paused her music career to delve deep into her work as an activist. However, holding a mirror up to herself, her community and the music industry is a signature that persists across her career, and even more so on her album Sundial.

Complemented by her dynamic six-piece band, she performs a few selects from this album including the gospel-infused “hold me down,” which Noname describes perfectly as “a petty love letter to my community.” Then she gets into “boomboom” featuring the vocalist Ayoni, who delivers a raw and powerful performance. She then invites Smino and Saba up to perform the unreleased “kush and love songs,” delivering clever and conscious bars on top of a swing groove. Concluding the show in true Noname fashion with “balloons,” she asks the audience: “Where better to do my most controversial song than NPR? Real journalism.”


  • “namesake”
  • “hold me down”
  • “boomboom” (feat. Ayoni)
  • “Don’t Forget about me”
  • “kush and love songs” (as Ghetto Sage)
  • “balloons”


  • Noname: vocals
  • Smino: vocals 
  • Saba: vocals
  • Ayoni: vocals
  • Greg Paul: drums 
  • Brooke Skye: bass
  • Cisco Swank: keys, vocals 
  • David Otis: sax, effects 
  • Kamilah: vocals, loop station 
  • Claudia Abena: vocals 


  • Producer: Ashley Pointer
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin 
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Alanté Serene
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyuoni 
  • Photographer: Michael Zamora
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Hazel Cills 
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Written by: NPR

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