Sound For Sound is a recurring column that further explores the relationship of rhythm and boxing by celebrating the music that influences and motivates fighters as they prepare for, and to excel under, the game’s brightest of lights
Buffalo’s Ché Noir teamed up with Detroit producer Apollo Brown to triumphantly drop their new LP As God Intended. Raquel Miller awaits the moment boxing frees a Pretty Beast in her industry.
An important new voice in hip hop is emerging in Buffalo’s 26-year old Ché Noir. Her discography already included The Thrill of the Hunt and its sequel of the same title, which both dropped in 2019, and there’s also the extremely well-crafted 10-track LP JUNO. The latter, released February 10, 2020, was solely produced by Trust Comes First Music Group founder and rapper 38 Spesh. The project brilliantly built off of Noir’s noteworthy string of features that caught the ears of many throughout Spesh’s Trust Army, or Gang, projects.
After that release social media posts soon revealed a collaboration with heavyweight Detroit producer Apollo Brown was forthcoming. Well, as promised the duo’s As God Intended finally arrived July 10, and out of its 14 tracks hip hop fans have several records to learn more about one of the genre’s more insightful and entertainingly introspective emcees. Moreover, she applies those attributes by delivering gem-laden verses infused with slickness, intellect and skill. If you’re familiar with 38 Spesh, or many of the Trust roster and its affiliates, you understand what Noir’s conquered just to earn her position.
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Many of the fighters that make up women’s boxing know quite a bit about the similar battles that need to be fought just to be able to fight. One such fighter, 35-year old San Francisco native Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller, seemed poised to realize a shot at the most important accolades of her career after becoming the interim WBA Super Welterweight champion in November. She returned from Quebec City with a wide unanimous decision over then unbeaten Alma Ibarra.
CHECK OUT THE PAY ME NO MIND YOUTUBE CHANNEL FOR THE ALBUM REVIEW OF APOLLO BROWN AND CHE NOIR’S AMAZINGLY CRAFTED LP AS GOD INTENDED BY RL WOODSON.
The interim status theoretically positioned Miller (10-0, 4 KOs) for a bout with WBA Super Welterweight champion Hanna Gabriels (20-2-1, 11 KOs) in the near future. Gabriels, a former unified champion, represents a formidable challenge. But, with a win, Miller could expect a showdown with long-time nemesis, undisputed Middleweight champion Claressa Shields.
Don’t get confused here non-boxing fans. In her most recent outing, Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) won a pair of vacant titles in Miller’s division, but more importantly she’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist who defeated Miller four times in the amateurs. A meeting as pros still remains a priority for Miller.
Since turning pro in 2016, Miller’s fought a step or two behind Shields and her history-making campaign. The lag in Miller’s arrival on the national stage is not solely of her own doing, but the Covid-19 pandemic has neutralized the momentum she was starting to gain.
In a recent TheSportsFanJournal.com article Miller told writer Bryan Fonseca about her “initial goal” of a single fight that led to her transition from an administrator at a law office, to an Olympic alternate, and to her current interim champion status.
I made a challenge to myself and said I want to go to the Olympics, and I did, as an alternate at the London Games. So, one fight led to two fights, led to ten fights, led to a national championship, Team USA, and then it just continued to evolve. It just became my life.
On “Money Oriented”, the fourth song on As God Intended, Noir also shared that her ambition led to leaving her job behind, and how the move served as the launching point of a budding recording career.
Y’all taking pictures of stacks, that’s what y’all want me to see?
I can count them stacks through this pic, that ain’t no money to me
To make a hundred legally, that was my first big plan
I quit my job, that next week I made my first ten bands
Crew of n—-s who use triggers just to stop the bullshit
You gon’ need God to safe your life, ’cause the doctors couldn’t
That tough s— don’t mean nothing when they cock and pull it
Toughest n—- in the world still couldn’t box a bullet
At just 26, according to the timeline Noir provides on the new LP’s autobiographical finale ’94, the emcee shares a wealth of information, wisdom and personal politics in Intended’s subject matter. Fans may favor the Black Thought-assisted “Hustle Don’t Give” for navigating the pitfalls of the streets. But the sharing grows levels more personal on the self-explanatory “Daddy’s Little Girl”, as well as in the examples of Noir’s maturation intertwined in the verses of “Worth Gold” and “Live by the Code.” She also displays her activist side in the apropos discourse offered in “Freedom.”
Hip hop and boxing are definitely alike in one harrowing reality – they are both a young athlete or artist’s game. And while Miller handles her waiting game well overtly, she regularly reveals a degree of building impatience via the encouragement shared to her following via her Instagram posts.
To start the second verse of “Money Orientated” Noir spends a few bars offering her observations on the struggles random characters from her experiences face in their relationships with money. Personally, she’s turned to external sources to offset the absence of the normal lessons a lot of daughters may have expected to been taught with the presence of a doting father.
Look, you say in God we trust
But I’ve seen God’s people sell their souls for you
Good girls turned into strippers on poles for you
You’re a poor man’s dream but they tire you to evil
That’s what Christ told disciples in the bible, they teach you
He tried to give advice to his people
Compared a rich man to a camel through a eye of a needle
You only live ones but if you live it right, it’s a sequel
I felt trapped but this money make my life feel like freedom
Miller and Noir carry messages of empowerment, accountability and hard work with them in their respective journeys. Having the mindset of an entrepreneur was prevalent throughout Noir’s JUNO, and in addition to being a boxer Miller is also busy building her own brand. She told Fonseca about her immediate career plans, and discussed her goals for her apparel line.
I would defend my interim title next. I would love to fight on ESPN or DAZN. I see myself going for a world title and then being able to unify it. I see my clothing line being able to crack at least $50,000 this year. I want to solidify myself as a world champion, get my brand to the next level, and push myself because I’ve got some girls that are on my hit list that I want to take care of.
In the chorus of her head-nodding anthem “Champions”, one of Noir’s first 2019 singles to garner the attention of players in the industry, she rapped “Before you see the light you gotta stand in the dark.” In the song’s first verse she wisely fed listeners, “…if you sow your seeds right, you probably can grow a flower.”
Noir just said “Hello world” in a major way with her Apollo Brown-helmed opus As God Intended. Unfortunately, Miller will undoubtedly have to wait a while longer as the sports world follows the lead of the medical community in terms of operating safely with the looming threat of coronavirus. Shields is only 25 years old and steadily improving, but the path to a fight with Gabriels could be easier to navigate with the Costa Rican who turns 38 in January.
This writer is optimistic about the prospects of Miller, and desperately wanting to see Shields face a U.S. opponent, but ultimately boxing, above all things, is extremely money orientated.