Rapper Kari Faux finds her truth in the South

Houston is just a stone’s throw away from Arkansas and for Kari Faux, the freelance rapper / singer-songwriter whose influences range from Andre 3000 to the sponsors of space funk Parliament-Funkadelic, this is the perfect place for a fresh start.

While at home in Little Rock during the pandemic, she found herself at a crossroads. “After I left LA, I had cried to my mom about feeling like I had nothing to show for the past 10 years. No car, no house, no children, no spouse. Nothing. I was so upset and felt like a failure. It was her mother who reminded her that the experiences she had cultivated in the music industry were more than precious. A year later, that recall was the fuel for Faux’s fresh start.

Music rooted in the South has always been a part of his life. Faux’s mother filled the house with gospel songs, while her father exposed her to funk and soul. “My family is responsible for my love for music,” she told me over lunch in Montrose. She wears a bright red crochet sweater and plaid pants, both hands filled with gold rings and eight finger tattoos that express “STAY REAL”, a perfect snapshot of her everyday style.

In elementary school, Faux (née Kari Rose Johnson) was known to write nursery rhymes for her classmates and has vivid memories of perusing her older brother’s CD collection. Living near the Lone Star State made her a fan of some of Texas’ rap pioneers, like Devin the Dude, Scarface, and UGK. “Houston just has its own way of doing things, from the music to the way people dress and the cars they drive in. It’s a place with a very distinct culture, ”she says.

Scythe came of age in the ringtone rap era of the early years, when Soulja Boy’s 2007 hit “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” set a precedent for musical virality and forged an inextricable connection between hip -hop and Internet. After graduating from high school and a brief stint studying audio engineering at the Art Institute in Atlanta, Faux released his EP. Laugh now, die later (2014), featuring “No Small Talk”, the viral hit that catapulted his music career and caught the attention of Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino, (who hopped on the song and featured her voice on her 2016 album Wake up my love) and made him one of the defining musical voices of the award-winning HBO series of Issa Rae Unsafe.

Navigating the music industry has proven difficult for Faux. Based in Los Angeles at various times over the past eight years, she has found herself disconnected from what is most familiar to her: the South. Three years after its debut Lost in Los Angeles (2016), his EP, Cry 4 Aide (2019) was seen as the most confrontational in her flawless discourse on past trauma and her demand for space to heal. “It was a really psychologically violent time. For a long time I was really sad but realized this is what I’m supposed to do, I just have to do it the way I want and trust myself.

Ten years later, Faux has maintained its status as an independent artist and continues to empower itself to take risks. His move to Bayou City only strengthened his autonomy.

In the wake of the release of his second studio album, Lowkey Superstar Deluxe, False is his most intrepid. Abstract LSD and recorded in London, the album is a psychedelic sound offering that recruits a host of emerging Southern talent, including Yung Baby Tate of Atlanta, Deante Hitchcock, JID and Smino of St. Louis. The record is energetic, humorous and full of composure. With Lowkey Superstar Deluxe, False makes it very clear that no matter what is thrown at her, she is here to stay.

In addition to marking a new chapter in Faux’s life, LSD has inspired many companies, including the launch of his label, Discreet Superstars Records, where she experiments as a first artist. She also has a clothing line of the same name. Reflecting on the nickname, she says, “I consider myself a ‘low-key superstar’ because every day I wake up and choose to present myself as myself, no matter what that looks like or how that might make the person feel. someone else. This is not a self-deprecating statement. I know I’m a superstar, I just choose to be low-key because I don’t need all the extra shit that comes with it. If I wanted to take over the world, I could, but there are more important things, like my peace of mind.

Houston’s dual spirit of slowness and entrepreneurial spirit served as the perfect backdrop for Faux’s personal and artistic expansion. “I think my presence here brings me closer to myself. The closer I am to myself, the more authentic the music and everything that comes from it will be. I really like it here. “

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