SW 2019 Preview: Kari Faux

Photo Courtesy of Hypebae, Illustrations by Liana Chaplain

Profile by Ciara Keegan

As soon as I found out about the Spring Weekend lineup, I knew exactly which earrings I would wear. If you are worried about why the lineup didn’t lead you to your own fashion-fueled prophecy, have no fear. Usually, I do not experience vivid revelations about which accessories to wear before I attend concerts. However, almost a year and a half ago, I was lucky enough to attend the concert of one of my favorite musical artists, Kari Faux. When she was announced to be performing at Spring Weekend I was immediately brought back to my conversation with her after her impressive set, when the style icon herself, complimented my red earrings. By all logic, her performance at Brown clearly means I must wear these earrings once again.

Now did I just spend a whole paragraph bragging about how one of the Spring Weekend artists complimented my earrings once, under the guise of an “artist preview”? Perhaps, but compliment or no compliment (let’s be clear, there most definitely was a compliment, but this has no influence on my opinions of her as an artist), having seen Kari Faux perform live last year, I would advise all concert goers to make sure they arrive for her set. While most attention is usually paid to the headliners, missing out on the array of talent BCA is bringing to campus this year would be a TRAGIC mistake. Faux’s discography reveals her range of talent and includes the upbeat witty raps her listeners have come to expect as well as the more emotional and soul-infused tunes she has released recently.

Faux, a musical force in and of herself, has collaborated with various prominent hip hop artists including Donald Glover (Childish Gambino), Isaiah Rashad and members of The Internet. Her songs have also been featured on the popular HBO series Insecure not one, not two, but three times.

Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, Faux first gained widespread attention in 2014 with her release of the single “No Small Talk” which was soon picked up and remixed by Glover. Faux released her first full length studio album in 2016. The album title, Lost En Los Angeles, is the namesake of the second song on the record and nods to Faux’s self-proclaimed rap style ("country as fuck") as well as her experience of moving out of Arkansas and into the big city for her career. Listeners can expect from this album some of Kari Faux’s more up-beat 90s hip-hop inspired tracks. For first time listeners, I would recommend the tracks “Supplier” and “Nada”.

Faux returned to her home in Arkansas to write and produce the 7-song EP Primary, which she released in 2017. “Gotta Know”, the stand-out second track of the record, was created in collaboration with the synth-pop producer Jerry Paper. The mellow instrumentals and male vocal hook complement Faux’s witty lines to create a satisfying laid-back sound. In 2018, Kari Faux released the single, “Color Theory” featuring fellow emerging neo-soul artist Leven Kali. One of my favorite songs from Kari Faux so far, the light-hearted track is grounded by a heavy synth base while Faux moves in and out of rapping to join Leven Kali’s singing of the chorus.

Taking inspiration from the artists she listened to in her youth, including Missy Elliot and Destiny’s Child, Faux provides a unique and strong voice within the growing number of contemporary outspoken female voices in hip-hop. That being said, Faux has been critical of the tendency for female hip-hop artists to be siloed and compared to other women in hip hop. One of her biggest influences, especially in her earlier work, has been Gucci Mane, identifying her own flow with his style during the late 2000s. She also takes inspiration from other rappers including Chuck Inglish, Chip the Ripper, and Curren$y, who is featured in her most recent project which was released in early March titled, CRY 4 HELP. While this 5-song EP takes a somber turn from her previous music, it maintains her unmistakable style and is perhaps her best work to date. With this series of tracks, Faux seems to have settled into her sound and is more honest than ever. With a more soul-inspired approach, every track holds its own while openly reflecting upon her own journey through frustration and trauma. I would recommend listeners play the whole EP through in one sitting.

I’m curious to see what she’ll perform this Spring Weekend. I’m expecting some of her more up-beat earlier songs—while I hope she allows us to hear live some of her more recent tracks, Spring Weekend’s wild energy might not be how she intended to perform this more intimate and self-reflective EP. Either way, it’s going to be well worth your time—and I’m ready for it. Be sure to check out the B-side playlist to prepare!