Gah Damn, Kari Faux Doesn't Want You Coming to Her for Answers
The LA via Little Rock rapper picked up a big cosign from Childish Gambino, but her style stands on its own.
Photos courtesy of Kari Faux
Kari Faux is a 22-year-old rapper from Little Rock, Arkansas. Her style of dressing—solid colors, no visible labels, a lot of black—makes her stand out in a genre filled with flashy designer label-clad artists. Her style of rapping—deadpan wit, endearing confidence, and clever wordplay—sets her apart from artists chasing hits or gimmicky internet fame. Kari stays in her lane, producing her own music with the help of her friend and close collaborator Malik Flint, or BLACK PARTY.
Kari released her debut mixtape, Laugh Now, Die Later, last summer. With spacey, minimal production, it foregrounded her unique charm and self-evident talent, generating quite a bit of organic hype and catching the attention of Childish Gambino. He remixed her song “No Small Talk” on his STN MTN mixtape, and, more recently, popped up in her video for “Gahdamn.” The video quickly racked up close to a hundred thousand views, positioning Kari—now managed by Childish Gambino's manager as well as Childish himself—as a legitimate force in music.
Last fall, Kari and Flint left Little Rock for LA, which is where I caught up with her over the phone on the first day of Black History Month.
Noisey: We’re both black people.
Kari Faux: We’re making black history here, right?
Do you feel like you’re getting the buzz you want?
Yeah, I am. The thing is I’m getting the buzz that I wanted because I honestly thought it was going to spiral out of control, if that makes sense. I didn’t want that.
I didn’t want to blow up too fast, know what I mean? I wanted people to be interested in what else I had coming forward and not just really stuck on what I’m doing right now, if that makes sense.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
I want room to grow. I don’t want people to be like, “Oh, yeah, you’re that one girl that did that one song with that one verse.” I care about my craft, and I want to get better. I know I’m OK now. I’ve made a lot of progression since I’ve been here, but I want people to give me the room to grow. I’m definitely getting looks, or whatever, and I’m definitely excited about that, but I still have a lot of work to do.
I definitely don’t want to saturate. Everybody’s been kind of going at me about not having new music, but if I gave them new music they would be over me so quickly. Everybody’s wants that instant gratification. I’m not letting anybody rush me, at the end of the day. I’m not.
Are you enjoying LA? What’s different about LA compared to Arkansas?
The weather, of course. I don’t know. LA, it’s cool. I like the views, the views are awesome. The weather’s awesome. The people can be really weird, though. It’s definitely how they tell you it is. People are very like, “I’m doing this and I’m cool.” And I’m like “OK, that’s cool, but I don’t care.”
You devote your song “Internet” to not caring about that stuff.
I just respect people that do what they do. If you’re talented, I respect that.
If you’re nice and not necessarily talented, I still respect you.
Yeah! If you feel like just because you have a certain amount of followers or you’re associated with cool people, that you can just treat anybody like anything—NO. But everybody wants to feel important, so I can’t be mad at that.
Do you feel like people who are perceived as important have more room to exist? Do you think people care about them more?
People do care about them more, but also when you’re important you don’t get the room to truly exist in a way, either. Everything that you do is going to be put on a platform, and people are always looking for something to be upset about. You know what I mean? Like, personally, I don’t want people to look to me for the answers.
You don’t got the answers.
Like, honestly, I don’t. There’s a lot of shit that I don’t know, and I’m fine with saying I don’t know.
So, you don’t want stans?
Stans get creepy. Donald’s stans, I have a love-hate relationship with. They either hate me or love me. Some of them are like, “Why the fuck is Donald even, like, cool with this girl? She’s fuckin’ ratchet.” I’m not really ratchet. All these people think I am. I have different sides of my personality. I’m multi-faceted as fuck. I can be ratchet. I’ve hung out with those types of people, so I know how to imitate that type of crowd. I also know how to be intelligent. I’m intelligent as shit. I mean come on, like look at the way I dropped this video. I did that shit on purpose. I wanted to stir shit up for a quick second because I feel like no one’s trying to stir anything up music-wise. I was like, OK, let me just come in, let me just like fuck with the game just for a quick second.
Did you make all the beats on your mixtape?
A good handful of them I did by myself, and then my partner BLACK PARTY made some of them with me. Actually, I think the only one we did together was “No Small Talk.” Then he did the other half. We’re trying to be working together. We have this production duo, and we’re trying to get placements on other people’s stuff.
When did you learn to make beats?
It’s been two years now.
How’d you learn?
I learned on Fruity Loops. I learned from Malik. We’re like really close friends. We’ve been knowing each other since we were 15, 16, and he’s always been making beats.
You’re both from Little Rock, Arkansas. I read so much about that place, growing up.
The Little Rock Nine.
Yeah. Definitely. That’s been stuffed down my throat my whole life. I’ve met a couple of them. I actually went Central, the school. I love that school. It’s so great.
Malik and I have known each for years. He’s always made beats, and I just always rapped. As we got older we were like, “OK, you know whatever, let’s do music and stuff together.” I ended up moving to Atlanta, and I came back to Arkansas when I was like 19 or whatever. And we decided that we’re just going to work actively on music. I told Malik, like, “Yo, I want to learn how to make beats,” and he put the Fruity Loops on my computer. I’ve just been playing around. I wouldn’t even call myself a serious producer. I just kind of like fuck around. That’s with everything I do, though.
That’s how I feel as a writer. I just kind of play around, see what works. And then something sticks.
When you do it from like that point of view it comes out more like real and genuine. You’re not forcing yourself to do it.
I think makes craft harder. I mean, I’m not always writing. Some writers are like writing something every day, you know?
We were just talking about that the other day because I have this journal and I was writing in it and I was just like… I’m not writing in this every day. I feel like I should only write in it when I feel a push to write, like if there’s something inside of me saying “you need to write!”
Do you identify as a writer?
I feel like a writer. Before, I didn’t. Before I thought I was just a rapper. And yeah, but I’m actually a lot of things. I’m starting to discover that I’m a lot of different things, and it’s cool ‘cause I’m learning myself.
You’re 22, right?
Twenty-two is so clutch. It’s such a good age to be.
You can still listen to that Taylor Swift song.
Oh yeah. I played that on my birthday. I did shrooms on my birthday and listened to Taylor Swift.
It was great.
Who are your favorite producers?
The Neptunes. I love them so much. Kanye. I love Kanye so much. I would also say Timbaland. He’s ill as fuck.
Timbaland is the head of music for Empire. Are you watching Empire?
No. I’ve heard of it, though. I think my brother watches that show.
You need to watch that show.
I feel like I need to because I keep seeing GIFs on Tumblr.
What lady MCs are you listening to?
I’m listening to Azealia Banks. Her album was on point.
Have you heard of Barf Troop?
Yeah, I have. Who else I been listening to? I like Junglepussy. I like the fact that she ties in healthy living with her music. I don’t know names of female rappers! I don’t!
I feel like a lot of the outlets aren’t putting on enough female MCs to begin with. You only really know the ones that are being put on the most like Nicki.
Nicki is a given. I don’t even put her in the female rapper category.
She’s number one.
Yeah, she’s NICKI.
Do you identify as a feminist?
OK, what’s your definition of a feminist?
Like, if you were taking a pop quiz and the question “Do you support all women?” came up, what would your answer be?
I’m not going to say I’m a feminist. I’m not going to say that, but if my actions and my words make you feel like I’m a feminist, then you can say I’m a feminist. Personally, I am not going to say that because I know the negative connotation that comes with the word feminist. Some people don’t even really know what the word means, you know?
You want mass appeal. You don’t want some idiot to come at you.
“Oh, she’s a feminist? Oh, I hate her!” Dude. Like what? The fact that anyone would even hate someone for wanting women to prosper is fucking crazy! I love women and I want women to love themselves and I want them to fuck shit up!
I saw you say something you said on Twitter recently. Something about people studying your shit.
I kind of hate on people who do that to me. It’s like, “Oh I’m not going to give her her props, but let me watch what she does.” Dudes do that to me. I feel like a lot of dudes steal my style.
Who stole your style? Name names.
I’m not namin’ no names.
I know a lot of people wanted your instrumental for “Gahdamn.”
Yeah. Nobody’s getting anything from me, OK?
Safy Hallan Farah is taking calls, no small talk. Follow her on Twitter.