J Noa: The 17-Year-Old Dominican Bringing Fresh Energy to Latin Rap
Dominican rapper J Noa has fulfilled a dream.
After making a name for herself through her freestyle videos and original songs on YouTube, the singer (née Nohelys Jimenez) has been signed to Sony Music. J Noa has released her latest single, “No Me Pueden Parar,” which is already making waves.
At just 17 years old, J Noa also released a short documentary titled “Mi Barrio.” The film tells her story of growing up in San Cristobal’s Barrio 5 de Abril. It is precisely this place that has inspired her sharp lyrics.
A talent evident early on
J Noa wrote her first song when she was only eight years old. Now, almost ten years later, her lyrics focus on social issues close to her heart — high teen pregnancy rates in her city and the Dominican Republic, for example.
The young rapper wrote “Betty,” her first single, after watching a television show about early pregnancy and other situations of abuse of power.
“This story might not have a happy ending, but it has a real one,” J Noa raps on the song. “Betty” tells the story of a girl from the hood who gets pregnant at 15, has a drug addiction, loses her mother in an accident at 17, and has to take care of the family from that age.
“You might be shocked, but this is what is normal to me,” the chorus goes.
Upon seeing a video of the singer, Grammy-winning producer, and Sony Music executive Rafa Arcaute did not hesitate to contact her manager.
“They had negotiated, but I didn’t know anything. So, when they sent the contract, my manager surprised me [telling me] that he was going to sign with Sony [while we were] standing in an empanada business,” she told mitú.
Dominican Rap has a woman’s name
The young rapper’s influences include Dominican legends such as Lápiz Conciente (aka “El Papá del Rap”) and Melymel (also coined “La Mamá del Rap). That’s why J Noa has earned the nickname “La Hija del Rap.”
Other influences include Quimico Ultra Mega and Rosalia.
And J Noa is definitely a gem.
At such a young age, the singer has broken through in a genre traditionally dominated by men. However, neither her age, gender, nor her working-class neighborhood background poses a problem.
“Sometimes, due to age, people don’t take you much into account, but I had the virtue of learning to express myself at an early age, in a good way so that people pay attention to me,” she said.
Finally, her lyrics and style make it clear that the rapper has her priorities pretty damn straight. When asked what a wish come true would look like for her, she said: “end racism, classism, homophobia, and sexual abuse.”
J Noa’s debut EP will be released in late May 2023. Keep an eye out for J Noa’s new music and videos coming straight from San Cristobal with love.
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