New York City has a longstanding tradition of producing eccentric, opinionated, sweetly insane Hispanic girls from a swath of land collectively known as “Uptown.” The sprawling enclaves between 125th in Harlem and 233rd in the Bronx contain enough swirling cultures that the youth from these hoods always have a certain otherworldly edge: Spanish Harlem’s Princess Nokia is the latest to crash land from a train stop that might as well be another planet. We first met Nokia as Wavy Spice, the early aughts-obsessed pastel voice behind “Bitch I’m Posh” and “Vicki Gotti.” Her’s was already a sound too diverse to pin down, and on Metallic Butterfly Nokia throws even more influences into the blender: industrial house, Dragon Ball Z, dancehall-y afrobeat, Taina, Yaki hair weaves and ambient electronic blips all coalesce into the soundtrack of a fly girl caught in the matrix. Her flow betrays shades of M.I.A, Maluca, and Lil Kim in their prime, and NY-based OWWWLS’ production creates an icy silver cocoon for this butterfly to spread her wings. At the age of 14 I was making Xanga pages on my Dell PC, she spits on “Cybiko,” staking her claim that she’s been about this digital life.
Stream: Princess Nokia, “Metallic Butterfly”