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A Q&A with bLAck pARty 

The former Little Rock resident and Childish Gambino collaborator talks about his album, "Mango."

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The image on the cover of bLAck pARty's EP "Mango" shows its creator — Malik Flint, a quiet 24-year-old raised in Little Rock in a military family — suspended over a lily pond somewhere in California. His eyes are closed, and the word "Mango" is written in English and again in Japanese above his head. As photographer and creative director Ibra Ake told Greenlabel magazine, it's part homage to Flint's lush, green home state, and part homage to an Instagram account Ake and Flint favored, a collection of images of fruit stickers. Flint left Little Rock for L.A. in 2014 with friend and collaborator Kari Faux, and the two are now the youngest members of Royalty, the creative collective that surrounds Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover), the Golden Globe-winning creator of FX's comedy series "Atlanta" and a musician who made waves last month with his third album, a funk throwback called "Awaken, My Love!" With a carefully managed gestation in a "factory" in Los Angeles' Glassell Park and a boost from Gambino's high-profile Twitter account, bLAck pARty (a stylized reference to Flint's ties to L.A. and Arkansas) released "Mango" in November 2016, and I spoke with him shortly afterward.

I want to ask about the video for "Best View." I can say pretty confidently that I've never seen a love story played out while a taxidermist was sewing eyeballs into a dead fox, but apart from that, it could be construed as a pretty straightforward love song. What went into the decision to keep things weird?

Personally, I feel like because it's such a sweet straightforward love song, I wanted it to have some sort of edge, some sort of twist to it. Anything that feels too sweet feels kinda weird to me.

Because of the trippy production, you don't go into, like, Maxwell territory. Seal territory. Sugary.

Yeah. At the end of the day, I don't consider myself an R&B singer. People kind of put that label on me, but I don't want to be that type of artist. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just not my personality.

Maybe part of it is the romance on tracks like "Wanderlust," and the implied reverence for the women to whom the songs are addressed. It's sort of a keynote for the album. "Bloom," in particular, could be about a friend or a lover, but it sort of floats above the baggage that sometimes we as adults tend to carry into relationships with us. It's just a benevolent sentiment, like "I want all good things for you."

So, the first three songs I did for the album were "Low End," Bloom" and "Best View." My dad actually wrote "Best View." He's written poetry my whole life, and he was taking a songwriting class at that time. A few days before I was leaving for L.A., he gave me the lyrics and said, "See if you can do something with it." So, I ended up finding melodies, mixing it with music that worked for me, and it was such a sweet song. "Low End" felt much more like a drug trip to me. "Bloom" is for my little sister. She's 11. We have a strong connection, because we're 12 years apart, and I was there when she was born. She's missed me a lot — like, she did not want me to leave. So that's my song for her. This sounds kinda dark, but I wanted — if, God forbid, I ever died or something — I wanted to leave her something.

"Feel Good" is subtitled "Amindi's interlude." Who's Amindi?

Amindi K. Frost. She's like 16 or 17, and she's a singer I stumbled across from being on Twitter. She has a sort of Ella Fitzgerald voice. I like really weird voices, so like, I was just drawn to it immediately, and I love how it turned out.

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You turned in the song "You" to Justin Bieber, and although I'm sure it would have been a great thing for you, I'm glad Justin Bieber didn't end up doing that song.

Yeah. When I moved to L.A. I didn't really have intentions of making my own project. ... I'm not really a project finisher. I usually take a year of doing my own music, and a year of not doing my own music, but I got an opportunity with a publisher through a friend of ours, and one of the people she told me about was Justin Bieber. I was like, "I can make a Justin Bieber record." So, I played "You" for her, and we submitted it and never heard back about it. Then the album came out.

And that's your rejection letter.

(Laughs.) Yeah, so I was like, "OK, cool." I ended up keeping it.

Ibra Ake, the photographer and creative director you've worked with closely on this project, has a real eye for making you guys look unique. He lends this beauty and this bizarre quality to your aesthetic, and Kari's.

He has a really well-rounded view of art in itself, and an understanding of our individual personalities, so he understands how to convey our personalities through pictures or art. He comes from a fashion photography background, and he's originally from Nigeria, so I feel like he takes what he sees in the world and brings that to an American realm. With us, everybody comes from different backgrounds, so having those different perspectives kinda rounds us out.

The outro to "Mango" is a thank-you note to the people who helped you put this together. Could you talk about a couple of those people?

I'm one of those people that feels weird about people helping me. So, it was a shout-out to everyone who helped me work on music up to this project. Ludwig [Goransson] and a lot of people from Donald's band: Lynette [Williams] plays keys for the outro, Chris [Hartz], Donald's drummer. Doc [Allison] does a lot of production on Kari's project and also my project. He's also a cellist, so all the strings you hear on "Lost en Los Angeles" — that's him. I feel like saying thank you is important, especially for people who might not hear "thank you" enough — like a musician.

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From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Black Party, Malik Flint

  • Black Party releases "Mango" with boost from Childish Gambino retweet

    November 8, 2016
    Arkansas rapper-turned-singer Malik Flint, a.k.a. bLAck pARty, released his new project "Mango" yesterday afternoon. /more/
  • Kari Faux on her new album 'Lost en Los Angeles'

    April 21, 2016
    No small talk. /more/
  • New music from bLAck pARty, The Body, Love Ghost, The Wandering Lake and more

    November 18, 2015
    Fayetteville's The Wandering Lake — the recording project of Brian Kupillas — released a new set of songs on Bandcamp this week and they are predictably great. The EP, "From James' Garden" comes after, Kupillas says, "what felt like a long drought of spirit." Find him on Tumblr, where he posts new music plus photos of elephants and body-builders. /more/
  • New music from BLACK PARTY, 'Dancing'

    February 25, 2015
    BLACK PARTY, the rapper and beat-maker who fled Little Rock last November for L.A. with friend and collaborator Kari Faux, just released a new single, "Dancing," that sounds a little like Phil Collins and N.E.R.D. and, I don't know, DMX — pure robotic soul. It's a departure for the rapper-turned-singer, though he hinted at the direction on last year's mixtape, "Prototype," which seems to have disappeared from the internet. /more/
  • New Kari Faux video, 'Gahdamn'

    January 15, 2015
    Recent L.A. transplant Kari Faux, who made our shortlist for Arkansan of the Year this week, released a new video this morning for her single, "Gahdamn," the opening track from her 2014 tape, "Laugh Now, Die Later." The clip features Childish Gambino, who gave her a huge boost with his remix of her song, "No Small Talk" (excerpted at the beginning here), and her frequent collaborator and fellow Little Rock native BLACK PARTY. /more/
  • Exit interview: Kari Faux and BLACK PARTY

    November 6, 2014
    Two Little Rock rappers say goodbye to Arkansas. /more/
  • New mixtape from BLACK PARTY, 'Prototype'

    October 16, 2014
    Little Rock's BLACK PARTY released his long-awaited (at least by us) new tape "Prototype" this afternoon — check it out below. Also, if you missed it, here's his new video, for "Hilaro Springs." featuring Google Maps and a psychedelic purple field that looks straight of "What Dreams May Come" (courtesy of Times visionary Kenneth Bell). /more/
  • Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) remixes Kari Faux's 'No Small Talk'

    October 2, 2014
    Rapper and TV star Donald Glover ("Community") released a new mixtape today, "STN MTN" (that's Stone Mountain to those of you not from Georgia), hosted by DJ Drama no less, and the highlight is a remix of a song by Little Rock's own Kari Faux. "No Small Talk," which we previously labeled the Song of the Summer (was I wrong?), was produced by Kari and BLACK PARTY, and though I probably prefer the original version, this is big news for Arkansas and, who knows, might be Kari's Drake-cosigning-Migos moment. /more/
  • Marvin Berry, Emory Jr., Dead Anchors and BLACK PARTY

    September 3, 2014
    By the far the best band in Arkansas named after a scene in "Back to the Future," Marvin Berry is a brand new project featuring Little Rock music scene stalwarts Andy Warr, Will Boyd, Chris Michaels and Dave Hoffpauir. /more/
  • New mixtape from Cool Chris, 'Leftover Gram$'

    August 20, 2014
    Cool Chris, of Little Rock's Young Gods of America collective, has a new tape out this week, "Leftover Gram$," the follow-up to his April release "Trap Conversations." Local beat-makers BLACK PARTY, Mach Soul and iamNAWF all show up, and Chris mostly takes a mellow, vibe-over-substance approach, letting the production take the front seat. /more/
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