The downbeat: Kari Faux’s latest release speaks to mainstream music’s still-present objectification of women

Kari Faux, a young African American woman, sings into a microphone while wearing a black tank top, hoop earrings, a necklace and bracelets.
Kari Faux performing at School Night at Bardot Hollywood (Courtesy: Justin Higuchi via Wikimedia Commons)

Kari Faux’s latest release, “CRY 4 HELP,” is emotional, beautiful and striking.

Many listeners may recognize Faux’s name from her hit song “No Small Talk,” in which she confidently raps about rejecting men, spending money and having no time to waste.

“CRY 4 HELP” is a more vulnerable take on this lifestyle, with Faux rapping in the first song “MEDICATED” that “I been drinkin’ all my feelings / Tryna sustain the life that I’m livin’ / So spare me all the details / ’Bout the things that you gon’ do for me / You just want me to break my back / So you can have cars and jewelry.”

This may be the harsh reality of the music industry, but Faux goes deeper with the EP’s next song, “LEAVE ME ALONE.” She raps “I guess the love was just for pretend,” and as Pitchfork summarized in their review of her song, “though she yearns to be alone, the need for simple human companionship is equally as present.”

This is an interesting perspective to bring to the table, especially coming from a musician. These days, it often feels as though artists have no time for vulnerability or compassion. With recent hits like “7 Rings,” “Wow.” and “Thotiana” revolving around acquiring money, cars and women, it is easy to feel like all major hits must be braggadocious or, at the very least, a constructed version of what life is supposed to be like.

Often, this construction of life includes the obsession with acquiring objects — which, in many songs, are women. This occurs across the board within genres such as rock and roll, rap, country, hip hop and pop. Songs like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by N.W.A. or “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke may initially come to mind, but songs like “Animals” by Maroon 5 and “Dirty Little Secret” by The All American Rejects are actually misogynistic as well.

Women are not exempt from objectifying women either. Often, female musicians must conform to the objectification standards placed upon them by the music industry. Nicki Minaj, for example, has a song titled “I Endorse These Strippers,” where she raps “Man I make the baddest bitches send me nudes.” Minaj is a successful woman in her field and is considered a feminist, so what does this say about what it takes to be successful in the modern music industry?

Faux is essentially challenging what sells. In an industry that praises coldness and greed, she throws out mainstream standards to deliver a more personal project. Faux is not altering the appearance of her life to please listeners, but instead telling listeners what her life really looks like.

For all the sadness present on the EP, Faux promises a brighter mindset at the end of “LEAVE ME ALONE,” rapping with an airy tone, “I like the truth and my clarity / I kneel and pray for my enemies / ’Cause hate would take up my energy / And I do not need that, mentally.” Perhaps this is a broad cue as well as a personal one; maybe all we need mentally is to focus less on artists who make us feel bad, and focus more on artists who promote healing, like Faux.

Ella Boyd SC ’22 is from Maine. Besides writing, she enjoys listening to music, discussing pop culture and making art.

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