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CMJ Crush: Nova Rockafeller @ Tammany Hall

Review: Nova Rockafeller @ Tammany Hall (10/18)

We came a little late to Nova’s set on Friday night at Tammany Hall, and walked into a boisterous sampling of a certain song from 1990. The Canadian punk-rapper was pivoting about in a freestyle box step as she tweaked the lyrics to confidently proclaim, “When I think about me / I touch myself.”

About 3 or 4 professional photographers crowded the very front row of the small stage, but the bar was not packed, giving the sense that this was an “artist to watch” among industry professionals but not necessarily for the average CMJ festival-goer. Nova wore torn jeans and a baseball-style tee, a beanie and twin braids. Her hype man, Hot Karl, wore an orange astronaut suit, a faux hawk and plastic-frame spectacles. 

Laden with nineties references, her snappy flow matched her playfully tough attitude on songs such as “Batman” and “Problem.” She easily switches from lyrics that range from adolescent (“I’m kinda awkward / That’s how I live my life”) to defiant (“I don’t fux with conundrums”) to self-proclaiming (“I’m the new bad bitch”). Coupling that with her cartoon-heroine look – she closely resembles Spinelli from Recess – she offers something that we haven’t seen before; a new female voice in a field in which there are too few. Besides that, she’s fun. She took a break between songs to hand out packets of Ramen to the audience. It’s unsurprising that she recently landed a major label record deal with Boardwalk/Mercury. We won’t be surprised to see this Nova become a Supernova.

Watch the video for “Problems”

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