5. Noname: Room 25

The world isn’t perfect and neither are we, but that’s no excuse to not examine both things clearly and try to find ways to improve them. That’s the theme of Room 25, Noname’s masterful exploration of her interior life, the exterior world, and how the two interact. Noname is a Chicago native who first attracted attention for her work with Chance the Rapper, but she cut her teeth in the Second City’s poetry community and it shows via her rapturous delivery.

Her flow is gentle, even quiet, but it commands attention nevertheless, via her deft dissections of faith, love, blackness, heartbreak and the broken political system. She breaks down the walls between the personal and the public and reveals the truth about the world. one which we all need reminding of: the distinction isn’t nearly as strict as we think. That’s why we need people like her. (Just a heads up, the video contains some strong language.)