No one is prepared when death hits, especially when it hits repeatedly for reasons many know could have been avoided. What do you do when reality and news broadcasts seem to be moving closer to one another at lightning speed?

Caught in the middle is Noname (formerly known as Noname Gypsy), a 24-year old Chicago emcee whose highly anticipated debut Telefone was released last Sunday. An impressive string of defining feature verses such as 'Lost' and 'Comfortable', and standalone SoundCloud tracks (that often get deleted) have built a strong following around the enigmatic rapper. And Telefone was truly worth the three-year wait.

The project is about so many things: her reflections on topics ranging from lovers to Bill Cosby, childhood memories to Brother Mike's passing to life itself. On tracks like 'Diddy Bop', Telefone is a conversation about Noname's, personal experiences in the Chi. The track feels like a one-take summer music video through her neighbourhood that stops at a still of her sitting on "my front porch in my new FUBU and my A1's too," just to pan out over the whole block dancing to Raury's soothing voice.

Telefone is also about lives taken by both street and police violence, an underlying theme in almost every song, no matter how subtle. Noname's poetic prowess unleashes words that make you pause and reflect more than once. Bars like "I sold my name for seven bags of skittles on Sunny Set Boulevard. Please tell me God is rainbow pretty" on 'Forever,' a song about shining despite hardships, are up for personal interpretation. One still can't help but wonder; was God at least rainbow pretty for Trayvon?

The production on Telefone is crucial to the project's success. Cam O'bi, Phoelix, Saba, Monte Booker, THEMpeople and Noname create a soundscape that hints at neo-soul in a light and dreamy way. At times, it all almost seems "too pretty" for Telefone’s subject matter. But this very specific choice of sound contributes to the project's constant tiptoeing between trauma and calm, violence and peace, life and death - Telefone grows on you progressively, going from easily enjoyable to hauntingly beautiful.

On her best tracks off the project, Noname holds our emotions in a twilight zone she skillfully created for her audience to stand in and observe the 360 view of her reality. On ‘Casket Pretty’s hook, Noname sings that “all of (her) niggas is casket pretty, ain’t no one safe in this happy city,” dragging us into the heart of her fears regarding the imminence of death in her surroundings. She does so while singing in an eerie manner that leaves a bittersweet feeling on your tongue after having sung the hook a few times too many. Her “casket pretty” friends could die at any moment.

The way in which Noname chose to tell her story and that of Chicago is a testimony to the resilience of both herself and her city - strength and beauty in the face of adversity. And while she hopes that her "telly don't ring," because they all made it home safe, I like to think Noname always carries her Telefone with her, and that she will continue to use it as a way to share her world with us as she did on the project. Communicating, transmitting, translating both the anguish and beauty of her experiences in the enchanting portrait that is Telefone.