Noname is a rap artist based in Chicago. She recently played Portland, supporting her 2016 album Telefone. I listened to her this week based on a blurb in the Arts & Entertainment section of The Oregonian last week.
The release date is significant, because she has been on the scene since 2010, contributing to other projects, including on "Lost" with Chance the Rapper in 2013 (the same year Telefone was announced). The blurb mentioned that, and I remembered that as I started listening and found the music hard to get into.
Noname uses some jarring notes and patterns. That can include a faint ring on "All I Need" that keeps me checking my phone, or an overlay of competing sounds on "Sunny Duet". This keeps the listener off-balance, rather than being able to settle easily into the music.
For someone who has taken so much time working out what she wants to say, I have to assume that is a deliberate choice. As repeated listening leads to familiarity the discomfort subsides, but before that you have heard.
As that happens I start to hear possible scat influences. I hear some quiet and lovely accents. I hear an undercurrent of fear because society is never safe for some people. There is still caring and beauty, but it is impossible to relax, depending on your skin color.
So yeah, the music shouldn't be relaxing. It reinforces what life is like.