In the December 18 segment of Smart Girl Club radio on Know Wave Radio, Destiny describes taking trips to Puerto Rico as a child, where she spent time with Taino cultural groups and performed at powwows and tribal gatherings.
These experiences shaped a lot of the Nokia album: Multiple songs are sung at least partially in Spanish. And there would be no men and there would be no technology, there would just be us and the children.
It would be very harmonious and holistic. In the video , Princess Nokia and a group of women and children in tribal garb play in waterfalls, carry baskets, live out an idealized village fantasy. The babies are present in full force. We breed early, we start our lives very early. I intend to have a big family. I can offer my input about what is feasible and what things could actually look like. But she definitely has a very strong input. We used a lot of found footage, a lot of images that inspired her.
For the third video it was very different.
We had a huge cast, a crew. It was a bigger production. The setting is beautiful, but the real power of the video is in the emotional energy between the women and the girls. Although there were some men present on set, there are no men in the video, meaning not only does it pass the Bechdel test, but it offers a rare depiction of women, mostly women of color, spending time in each others company and existing comfortably in their own skin. The footage shows women with natural hair and skin, with tattoos and muscles and cellulite and various body types.
As if to challenge National Geographic tropes of tribal objectification, the women in the video are neither fully nude nor fully clothed, present not for the male or the colonialist gaze but as embodied assertive humans.
To drive this point home, scenes of collectivity are broken up with close-up video portraits, each woman confronting the camera as individuals. I have to really give it to them. She already prioritized working with women on all Princess Nokia productions, from organizing shows to managing finances. But inspired by her time spent with the Letter Racer crew, she wanted to push further.
Naomi Jamillet, the co-host of the radio show. The Oracle in the Matrix was an older woman of color who lived in the projects and took care of psychic children. She was a program. Destiny is making plans to paint her room in preparation of the new year. She suggests that the her next project will incorporate even more elemental and New Age ideas, earth, indigenous values and languages and aesthetics and sounds. Towards this end, despite being an active social media user, she deleted her entire web presence for a month or so—the Princess Nokia Twitter, Facebook, everything—in an effort to remove herself from the often-draining noise of constant communication, to guard her energy, to let her work speak for itself.
She used to think of the Internet as a way to escape. As we pack our things, she shows us giant jars of sea glass collected up by Clason Point and other secret New York spots. All photos by Dylan Johnson. Destiny performing with Ratking at Governor's Ball. A still from the "Young Girls" video shoot. I embrace duality. Her eyes light up.
I want to be a multifaceted artist, not just a musician, but an intellectual woman. So what are you waiting for?
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