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Princess Nokia and Ultrademon hit Gardner

Princess Nokia appeared onstage in Gardner. Contributed photo
Princess Nokia appeared onstage in Gardner. Contributed photo
Princess Nokia appeared onstage in Gardner. Contributed photo
Princess Nokia appeared onstage in Gardner. Contributed photo

This Halloween night, SGA Concerts brought Ultrademon and Princess Nokia to Gardner and the two of them put on a show so good it was scary.
Ultrademon is a house DJ from Chicago, the heartland of house music. Judging from his set, he is indelibly loyal to the house tradition. Running with the fast tempo of drum machines and hihats of the genre, he also introduced an electronic flair to his set. Extravagant synth melodies trailed in and out of his music.
For anyone who remembers frequenting arcades in the early 2000s, Ultrademon’s set played like the opening sequence of an arcade machine, quick to the point of freneticism, and diverging from one trail of sensory stimulation just as soon as it established another. The energy that resulted was invigorating, and a small crowd of about 50 students jammed on the dance floor for the entire show.
After Ultrademon’s set, Gardner cooled down for a hot minute. Students grabbed water and smoked a cigarette on the steps outside to the omnipresent exasperation of campus security until, with little warning, Princess Nokia took the stage and announced her presence in a high-pitched squeak. A deluge of students formed instantly to watch her, and Nokia, in a batgirl costume, relished the attention.
She then launched into her song “Versace Hottie” all booming beat and self-loving bars: “If the money ain’t there, got to b-y-e, sorry little mama got to g-t-g, I’m settin’ booms on these n***as y’all can d-i-e.” The song exhilarated the front row of the crowd, who began to sing along to her song, at which point Nokia squealed in delight and actually shared the mic with a few diehard fans.
Princess Nokia is an amalgam of styles and influences, but what unites her M.I.A. meets Bronx Boriqua music is the empowerment of women. When a few rowdy dudes in the middle of the crowd pushed the front row to the ground in a rush, Nokia stopped the music and laid down the law.
“Ay, all the boys pushing, step back! This is not the place! Girls to the front! Bring all my girls to the front!” Nokia demanded, to cheers from the crowd.
But her graciousness did not stop there. She even fielded requests for songs, and performed all of them. When she heard “Wavy Spice,” she teased the crowd: “Oh you wanna hear Wavy Spice? Ok, let’s do this,” and launched into “B*tch, I’m Posh,” one of her earliest songs. She cleared a runway through the crowd and declared an impromptu vogue-off. Students familiar with the dance form that originated in New York took to the floor and vogued each other, by themselves, and with Princess Nokia herself.
By the middle of the show, the crowd was in full-on worship of Nokia. She was a delight to watch on stage, animated and elegant. She executed raps with skill and sang her songs with a honey-rich voice.
The adoration of the crowd can only be likened to the scene in Game of Thrones when Khaleesi’s freed slaves bow down to her and swear their allegiance. Nokia was the Khaleesi of Gardner that night, enchanting the audience with songs of love, the pride she finds in her Taíno heritage, and her promise of a better future.
Near the end of the show, Nokia performed “Young Girls,” an anthem dedicated to a utopic society of women and children: “Dancing and singing, no phone is ringing/ Babies is playing while they aunties is cleaning/ Young Girls, patrons of the Earth, Young Girls, Take care of all the Earth,” bringing the first few rows of women and gay men to a serene sense of community and goodwill.
Perhaps the song that best illustrates Nokia’s homegrown third world feminism is “Bikini Weather Corazon En Afrika.” Matching the song’s eclectic styling that includes Afro-Puerto Rican anthems and Indian Kuchipudi interludes, Nokia performed dips, karate kicks in the air and salsa steps on stage while never dropping a beat. For the final verse of the song, Nokia sang in Spanglish an allegiance to the spiritual and musical elements of her cultural heritage, and sang “Mi Corazon en Afrika” with a fist raised high into the sky, and declared her allegiance to feminism and global liberation.
Nokia is a force to be reckoned with and a joy to watch. Although this femcee upstart has just begun her career, she’s got what it takes to make it big. A Bronx-born bricoleur with a futuristic vision and imaginative articulation of feminism, she lit the stage Friday night with her passion and talent.

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