After subjecting herself to years of artistic trials in LA, Kari Faux decided to return to her Southern roots. The rapper and singer-songwriter moved to Houston, where she began to assemble the elements for what would become the greatest work of her already decorated career. On Real BItches Don’t Die, Faux delivers a tribute to lost loved ones, resilience through the grieving process, and artistic integrity in the face of commercial pressure. All that is laid over a vibrant backdrop of Southern Hip-Hop inspired production infused with Faux’s funk and experimental tendencies. 

The 31-year-old Arkansas native is used to manifesting her goals. With 2021’s Lowkey Superstar, Faux grew from an intriguing voice in independent, alternative Hip Hop into a bonafide rising star by blending her eclectic proclivities with brash bars and pop hooks. Faux takes that formula and elevates it on Real Bitches Don’t Die. A concept album constructed in what Faux calls a “perfect loop” in a nod to Kendrick Lamar’s classic good kid, m.a.a.d. city.

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Faux stood out from the outset of her career for her unflinching honesty and unwavering confidence delivered via a throaty and deliberate flow. But early on she struggled to deploy sufficient production might to match her artistic ambitions. Real Bitches Don’t Die is Faux returning to both her physical and musical roots by paying tribute to her own penchant for funkified soundscapes with nods to Southern rap ancestors OutKast and UGK. The results are a complete, multilayered, and deeply personal work of art.

Thematically, Faux succeeds in illustrating the true emotional complexity of the grieving process. At times, like in the cosmic opener “Real Bitches Don’t Die,” she hugs her ancestors close for reassurance as she mourns the loss of close friends and family members. On other songs, like the bouncy “Turnin’ Heads,” she grasps at moments of unfettered joy. For every second of somber reflection, there’s an equal outpouring of lyrical swagger. The metaphor is Faux’s way of showing those feelings aren’t in opposition to each other, but instead, work together to carry her through the journey.

One leg of that journey paid both professional and personal dividends. On the invitation of friend and collaborator theMIND, Faux visited Chicago as she worked on the album. That led to her forming a deeper friendship and eventually romantic partnership with producer Phoelix, whose presence s deeply felt throughout. It can’t be a coincidence that this is the tightest project of her career, and the first that seamlessly blends Faux’s forays into jazz and funk with her Southern rap roots. The motif is amplified by a set of features from a cast of all-stars including Big K.R.I.T., Devin The Dude, and the late Memphis MC Gangsta Boo.

On Real Bitches Don’t Die, Faux leans heavily into her “gangsta bitch that needs forehead kisses” persona. In what is equal parts a Dear John letter to LA, public meditation, self-love manifesto, and tribute to Southern rap culture, Faux shows she can make relentlessly avant-garde alternative Hip Hop while maintaining commercial appeal. Only the ancestors – and Faux herself – know what’s in store going forward.