Kari Faux Is Revamping Her ‘Primary’ EP Into a Full-Length Album
When Kari Faux visited the XXL office a little while back, the Lost En Los Angeles rapper did something pretty rare: She left her entourage at home.
It's not an uncommon practice for Kari, however. The Little Rock, Ark. native has come a long way from being featured on The Break two years ago, and she's made many of her strides on her own—she even answers her own business-related emails. In the process, Faux has garnered the attention of other women like herself, including Insecure's creator and lead star, actress-director Issa Rae.
"I think she might’ve texted me," Kari explains, as she tells XXL the story of how "Top Down" and "Lowkey" ended up on the Insecure soundtrack. "I ended up performing at the Insecure block party they had in New York for the first season. I had already met Issa [Rae] and Melina [Matsoukas], who is one of the directors. Then I met Jay Ellis and Yvonne [Orji], so it was really cool."
These days, the rapper/singer/DJ is gearing up to re-release her 2017 EP Primary as a full-length album. "I’m gonna basically rework Primary, add some more songs," she says. "I’m gonna go really hard with is one... With some PR, so it gets the push that it needs."
Kari Faux chatted with XXL about the state of female rap, why she decided on Violet Waters as her DJ alias and her musical end game.
XXL: How was the response from fans to your Primary EP?
Kari Faux: It was very good. I didn’t really expect that many people, for one, to care, and two, to love it as much as they do. It got really good feedback and reception. I don’t have PR right now, so at the time for it to get the articles that were written up about it and the people that listen to it and show love to it, it was super cool.
How would you describe your music? Some of your SoundCloud tracks are labelled them jazz and you even sing on some songs.
I mean, it’s a vibe [laughs]. That’s the thing, I literally cannot describe [it]. Just me being who I am, I’m influenced by so many things that make me up. I feel like the people and things I’m influenced by don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, so I don’t know, it’s just a vibe. It’s a feeling. It’s a mood.
Who are some of the people you're influenced by?
André 3000, Erykah Badu, Debbie Harry from Blondie, Kelis, Gwen Stefani. I love Kanye West, Ice Cube, Devin The Dude—I love Devin. To me, Devin The Dude and André 3000 go hand-in-hand. I love Soulja Boy; I love him! Oh my God, we would not be here… Soulja Boy died on the cross for our Internet sins. He did! Put some respect on his name.
What is the process like for you in the studio?
For me, a studio is a room; it’s somebody’s bedroom [laughs] ’cause that’s where I’m the most comfortable. The way I write, I have random thoughts all day long. Whether I write it down in my phone or I write it in a book—’cause I have four books of just random-ass thoughts—somebody will play or make a beat and I’ll just flip through my notes or flip through my books, see something that I wrote maybe months ago and I’m like, "Oh, this is cool," and then I’ll turn that thought into song. Or base the song around that feeling that I felt when I wrote that.
I hang around rappers—niggas who rap. And they’ll just sit and write a whole 16 in like, five minutes. I’m like, how? I can, but those moments for me, I have to have a crazy spark of inspiration to just sit and write a whole song on the spot. Other than that I just take notes on what I observe.
Your DJ alias is Violet Waters. Why did you chose that name?
It actually just popped in my head randomly one day. I remember I was talking to this spiritual reader—’cause I’m really into that holistic, spiritual stuff—and the lady was like “Oh your aura is violet.” She said that means you’re highly aware, conscious and you understand what’s going on in this plane and the spiritual realm. You’re very intuitive, you pick up on the emotions of others and [are] highly imaginative. So she was doing this meditation with me and she was like, “I see you being really close with water, living by the water.” I love water a lot, but water also has to do with emotions, so if you’re a water sign you tend to be a little more emotional. And also Waters is my mother’s maiden name. I’ve been calling myself this name maybe over a year now, and then she said that and I was like, “Damn, okay. I fuck with this and I need to use this name.” Then I started DJ’ing.
Why did you decide to begin teaching yourself to DJ?
I’ve always wanted to. If there’s ever any type of function or we’re riding in the car, people automatically give me the aux cord to play music.
That’s a big honor.
Yeah it is. My friend had a birthday party, we were at a bar and I guess the person was playing music off a computer that has Spotify. They left and whatever was playing was just playing. So then my friend was like, “Well the owner said you can play music so you should go up there.” I didn’t even ask to, and I was super nervous—that was my first time playing music in front of lot of people. I was going in and people were really enjoying themselves. So I was just like “Oh, damn. Maybe I can do this.” I sat down and taught myself how to do it. It’s great, I love it.
Your “Sayonara 2K17 (Big Moe Homage)” mix was dope. What made you want to remix "Barre Baby"?
I normally do instrumentals, but Big Moe is another huge inspiration since I’m from Arkansas. Houston and Dallas’ music very much influenced Little Rock’s style and sound, along with Memphis. So growing up we listened to a lot of Pimp C, UGK, Lil’ Keke, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire. Big Moe was part of Screwed Up Click, which was DJ Screw’s clique or whatever, and he just has this beautiful fucking voice. He’s rapping but he’s singing at the same time. That’s always been really cool to me, and that’s one of my favorite songs. I was singing it a lot and Malik ["bLAck pARty" Flint], said "Why don’t you do it for ‘Sayonara 2K17’?" He made a little beat and I just sang over it and put it out.
Nice. What do you have planned for the 2018 version?
I don’t know. That’s the thing, when the end of the year comes that’s when I’ll have something. I’ll make something in that moment and I’m like, ‘Alright, this will be a hit.’ It’s not even a thing that I think about throughout the year, which is crazy. And it’s really cool that people actually pay attention to that [laughs]. ’Cause I do that kinda for myself.
You do a lot of songs with Malik. How did your relationship with him develop.
So we met when we were 15, 16, through Facebook. At the time, I was rapping with some homies from my high school and he made beats. He had just moved from Denver because he’s an Army brat. He’s gonna hate that I even brought this up, but he made this beat and kept putting “Miss Keri Baby” throughout the beat and sent it to me. So we got cool, we dated for a while—maybe like three, four years—and then we kept making music. We stopped dating—you know, things get tricky—but we’re good. That’s the one thing we’ll always agree on: We have amazing musical chemistry. That’s like my best friend, I talk to him every day. He has an album coming soon, it’s gon' be fire.
A lot of people are familiar with you due to the Insecure soundtrack. “Lowkey,” which you also produced, and “Top Down” were specifically made for that show. How did that come about?
They hit me and up and were like, “Hey, we have this one scene and we wanted to know if you could make a song for this one scene.” They sent me the scene, I saw it, then Malik and I pretty much made the song on the spot as we watched the scene. We wrote the lyrics, recorded it and sent it to them. I didn’t think that they were gonna fuck with it. They were like “This is amazing; we love it,” and I was like “What?” I had only did the hook, the first verse and the second hook, ’cause that’s all they needed for the show. Then they asked about it being on the soundtrack. I think RCA was over the soundtrack, and they were like, “Well what about Leikeili47?” I hadn’t met her but I heard her music. So they reached out to her, she got on it, killed it and it was tight. I actually met her a few months ago in L.A. I love her, she’s amazing. She’s so sweet.
You’ve been aligning yourself with a lot of indie artists lately. Do you plan or working with any rappers in the near future?
I want to but nothing’s concrete. I want to work with Vince Staples. That’s the homie, but we’re never in the same place at the same time. I really love Rico Nasty. I don’t know if she’ll ever work with me and I don’t even know if we would make sense on paper, but I love Rico Nasty. I love everything that she’s doing. It’s great. She should never stop, because “Smack a Bitch” and “Key Lime OG”…I think she’s fucking tight. She’s so cool.
And what are your thoughts on the new female rap scene as a whole?
I think it’s tight, because at the end of the day I feel like there’s fiftyleven fuckin' Lil somethings, and you can say it’s all mumble rap but those guys do have their own little thing they do that makes them different at the end of the day. With women, there’s literally no woman that is the same as the next woman. Even if there is an Asian Doll and a Rico Nasty beefing for whatever reason, those girls are nothing alike. They have their own style, whether it be similar or not. I think it’s dope that there’s so many women that have their own lane. Let’s highlight that, the fact that you can say you don’t like a woman who raps about her pussy—okay, cool. You don’t have to listen to a woman that raps about pussy, because there’s so many women that don’t do that. And even if she does rap about that, so what? Niggas rap about they dicks. If you’re saying “Oh, there ain’t no female rappers that I like,” you just don’t wanna listen. Because there’s literally someone for everybody. And there’s really more than one for everybody.
Definitely. Aside from Rico, what other female artist would you like to work with?
Junglepussy, that’s my homegirl. Megan Thee Stallion, she’s from Houston. She can rap. I [also] like Asian Doll. Molly Brazy—“Big Brazy,” I love that song. It goes off.
What’s your end goal, even beyond music?
I’m gonna make music for the rest of my life. I’m probably gonna evolve into like, some funk/soul/R&B artist by the time I’m 40, and then just travel around with my band, be on some Erykah Badu, Sade-type shit.
I wanna act. I wanna be on TV—I want my own TV show. I wanna write TV shows, I wanna be in movies, I wanna write movies and I wanna host a TV show. I wanna be just a fashion fucking icon, and not in way where it’s like, “She’s trying…” No. It’s like, “Oh, I really like her outfit.” ’Cause for me, Debbie Harry is that for me, from Blondie. She would literally be wearing a T-shirt and some jeans and it just looks so cool. So I definitely wanna venture into fashion, maybe have collaborations with brands that I like. And hopefully I’ll get to start a festival in Little Rock.
That would be dope, to show some love to your city.
Yeah, definitely. And it’s literally a hub. You have to go through Little Rock or Arkansas if you’re going from the East to the West at some point. So why not make an attraction that draws people in?
Are there a lot of hip-hop artists out there?
Yeah, there’s a scene. But it’s really hard for those kids to make a move, ’cause at the end of the day you kinda have to leave where you are to get people to know you outside of the internet. I feel like even if I was to be like, “Hey guys, listen to this artist,” they’re not gonna take my cosign. My cosign doesn’t really mean too much, and I don’t wanna be that person that tells somebody, “Yeah I’m gonna put you on” and then I can’t do it, you know what I mean? I don’t wanna put pressure on myself. The more and more I get bigger I feel like people will be more interested. ’Cause those people are putting themselves out there, it’s just people aren’t paying attention.
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