Los Angeles Arkansas
LA AR bLA pAR bLAc pARt
“You have to be prepared at all times.”
Malik Flint, aka Black Party, details his advice to young producers with a list of testimonies. Preparation in many aspects of the up-and-coming artist’s game has helped propel his musical career to Los Angeles from his Little Rock, Ark. home.
“Learn how to write professional emails too,” Flint advises with a laugh. “Because that’s also important.”
The son of a singer, Flint’s musical background stems from his parents. He learned his first instrument, the trumpet, at age 12 which preceded early beat machines. His present-day productions echo the sounds of his upbringing and experiences with influences from Atlanta, LA and Little Rock all shining through.
Black Party’s jump to full-time, West Coast producer came when he and longtime friend and collaborator, Kari Faux, impressed on “No Small Talk” off Faux’s Laugh Now, Die Later. The track landed the duo a feature on Childish Gambino’s STNMTN mixtape and later a roster spot in the Royalty group under manager Fam Rothstein, who discovered the track arbitrarily when he came across Black Party in his Twitter followers. Flint says he originally came across Fam’s Twitter from the “Continuing Tradition Since Elvis…” tweet.
“I just thought it was hilarious,” he said, having met and opened for G-Eazy in Little Rock with his former high school rap group.
The casual social media interaction helped Black Party capitalize on his preparation but was not the only driving point to the southern artist’s young success. To outsiders, hip-hop in the South seems heavily centralized around the Atlanta scene. While Black Party acknowledges the necessary resources and opportunities in the hip-hop capital, he also emphasizes the importance of smaller scenes belting lesser-heard stories like his own.
“People forget that music is a form of expression,” he said. “If you’re in a smaller town, that need for expression is going to be even bigger.”
Collaborations with artists like Childish Gambino, Benny Cassette and Father, alongside his career with Faux, has added to the multi-layered sounds of Black Party’s production. Balancing live instruments, 808s and old-school samples, among other musical sounds, have helped cultivate his range of melodies.
Gahdam / No Small Talk
The bridge between career paths, “No Small Talk” – co-produced with Faux – is a Little Rock track remixed in bright lights. The video links the Gambino collab with “Gahdam” off Laugh Now, Die Later.
“We made (No Small Talk) in my room while I was staying in a duplex with my older brother. We just used to record all day, every day at the house. Kari was like, ‘I got this song idea I wanna do for Shanice,’ who DJ’s and does stuff under the name FASHIONSPITTA. She was pretty much the inspiration. ‘No Small Talk’ is a phrase she used to use all the time. We laid down the drums and got a groove then Kari laid down a baseline. We recorded it and knocked it out. It was a hit.”
The hit song, backed by its progression, features Black Party and FASHIONSPITTA cruising through the “Gahdam” segment of the visuals as well.
Black Party capitalized on Atlanta’s ever-growing hype and resources with a Father collab on his 2015 track “Old $$$”. The song features background vocals from Faux who has also spent time in Atlanta during her young career.
“I have a friend who is cool with Father, that’s how I even met him. We ended up going to The Barrio one time when we were in Atlanta. He was making a beat and I was just like ‘yo, can I do something in this?’ He was like ‘sure, I don’t care’. So then when he was going to release the song, he needed somebody to mix it. I was like ‘just send it to me, I got you’. The first day that I worked on that beat was the first day I met him.”
“’Profit’ is probably from about 2013. Nick was in college and I had sent him a couple beats, one of them was ‘Profit’. I liked ‘Profit’ because it was that A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Electric Relaxation’ sample. I like the idea of taking something everybody knows and giving it a different feel and vibe. I wanted to make it more bouncy instead of groovy.”
Black Party’s main project since relocating to LA has been on Faux’s forthcoming Lost En Los Angles album. “Supplier”, off the album, pairs with a set of fitting visuals featuring familiar Royalty faces.
“’Supplier’ is the very first beat I made moving out here (to LA). I eventually had to get a new laptop so I was using Kari’s to produce on and I just opened up FL studios and found these 80s, Prince-esque drums, so I laid down the drums and then the baseline came and I made it. We just started adding elements to it until it shaped up into an actual song. When I went back home in December my dad was showing me Prince’s first album. It was cool because I looked at the credits and Prince played every fucking thing on the album, like the drums, the keys, the guitars. That kind of inspired me to just try all the instruments and see what I can make from it.”
The first release off LELA, originally dropped last summer, showcases West Coast influences to be furthered by an up-tempo redux of the track on the album.
“’Nada’ we did all in LA. We got down to making a Neptunes-ish beat at first but with a southern flow. For whatever reason, we like a lot of slow beats, so I made it that way. When we were wrapping up her project a couple months ago, Fam was like ‘you wanna do anything to Nada?’ because I had done extra production on some other songs. I had an idea to make it more upbeat and sped it up for a track you could play at a kickback or something. So that will be the album version.”
Beyond Faux’s forthcoming LELA release, Black Party continues to work towards a solo project of his own. Paired with new songwriting developments and continuing vocal progression, “You” features the beginning of many new steps to Black Party’s solo work.
“’You’ is funny. I used to primarily use FL Studios but when I moved out here I ended up switching to Logic. I had to learn that and learn how to produce in it because being out here and seeing the behind the scenes, with like sample clearances and stuff, made me kind of stop sampling. I learned Logic to be able to play real synths and instruments and get into that vibe. ‘You’ was one of the first joints I made in Logic with Doc Allison. I wanted to submit it to Justin Bieber so I ended up going to Ludwig Goransson’s studio. He heard it and put keys and a couple guitar licks and a baseline which made it become much more of a real song. After that I ended up going to Benny Cassette’s studio and I played it for him so he basically helped me finish writing the song. We changed it so it has more of an aggressive tone. I wanted it to feel gritty.”
For more Black Party content be sure to check out his interview on Faux’s LELA Project website and a full set of his production features on SoundCloud. No release date has been announced for Lost En Los Angeles so stay on the lookout for the album and any new sounds out of the Royalty camp.
By Robert Kelly