Now that summer has arrived, I wonder how I’ll remember a time in which a global health crisis was definitively latched to our sense of self. Although time seems to move slower in the summer, I now find myself especially searching for ways to co-opt the emptiness of loss and fear that has extended itself to all of us. My roommate and I counter our time spent indoors with drives around Tucson. I take my point-and-shoot to document the ways in which my hometown has changed — with the music as loud as possible, reiterating its significance in understanding ourselves throughout quarantine.
Because live music and social interaction are currently in limbo, the release of new music during quarantine works as an escape. The release of Kari Faux’s Lowkey Superstar reminds us of the accessibility of growth in a time when it feels most out of reach. Specifically, the ways in which strength and emotional capability can be found within the transformative periods, such as the process of growing up.
The album’s first track, “While God Was Sleepin’…” rhythmically accelerates the premise of Faux’s mindset. Lyrics like “tried to FaceTime God / He declined, I said 'Oh well'/ He hit me back with a text / And said ‘save yourself’” initiate Faux’s reclamation of power and control. This is something that is consistently felt in each track. This specific reclamation is presented by Faux in a manner that encourages her listeners to obtain that power, too.
“Skit”, the album’s interlude, challenges women’s positionalities, singing, “uphill battle 'gainst patriarchy with a plastic knife / That'll probably be the synopsis of my f---ng life / Doing all that ‘pick me’ s--t to be somebody's f-----g wife.” Faux’s lines are quick and reflective, using their wit to lightheartedly relate to the world around her — something that detaches itself from sexist value systems that rely on male validation. The relatability of Faux’s frustrations are indicative of the necessity of understanding the different spaces in which strength can be produced. Emotional trauma remains rooted in the ways we understand ourselves and our positions within our communities.
At the same time, Lowkey Superstar prompts a confident narrative. It functions as an assurance that the personal expectations we connect ourselves to are allowed to change. “Look At That” works similarly, reflecting on Faux’s new success and how it has changed the way people treat her. The distinct admission of social rejection turned into begging for Faux’s acceptance is a moment that indicates the evolution of Faux’s career. Faux raps, “you said I wouldn't be s--t / but now you all up on my d---k / now look at that / Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha”. The track recognizes self-made empowerment and basks in the process of transformation.
“StickUp!” is another assertion of well deserved power, dealing with power dynamics in terms of confronting debts owed and being taken advantage of. This song is blunt and melodic, proclaiming “ain’t no more talking, so don’t even bother / I’m doing the math and I’m doing it proper / Got the solution and you are the problem / If they catch me, I’ll stand up and say / ‘She was playing with my money your honor’.” The empowerment that can be found within Faux’s lyrics feels like a resurgence of life — a representation of the way time can heal and recreate. Faux faces the process of her own success, examining how her success has changed the relationships around her and removing herself from relationships in which she was taken advantage of.
Lowkey Superstar signals the value found within Faux’s artistic process, employing an intricate understanding of growth and change. Faux’s transformation as an artist provides space to reflect on the transitional period of her career, presented through humorous yet difficult reflection that embodies something significant. The concept of being both ‘lowkey’ and a ‘superstar’ reevaluates the inherent validity of work heavily within the limelight, conversing with the construction of fame.
Faux created a world of encouragement with Lowkey Superstar. In its entirety, the record ventures into an unapologetic space wherein Faux balances a new found emotional self. While still toying with heavier subject matters, Lowkey Superstar is vibrant and confident, poetically turning Faux’s conflicts with power dynamics, identity, debts owed, and interpersonal relationships into a clever rediscovery of self. In a time marked by transformative loss, Lowkey Star came when we needed it most, bridging the gap between chaos and normalcy.