Meet BLKBOK – the Detroit native, with perfectly painted nails and Troubadour tattoos. This past week, the piano prodigy released his classical take on Cardi B’s “Up” and Saweetie and Doja Cat’s “Best Friend,” the former of which is just beginning to have a viral moment on TikTok, racking in over 150K views within 24 hours and more than doubling his follower count. Though his original music is soon to follow, the two covers will be available on BLKBOK’s upcoming mixtape, CVRART. In the same spirit of rappers working through their creative journeys via mixtapes of mashups and collaborations, CVRART is a neo-classical, hip hop inspired take on some of the most recent viral hits.
Though these covers mark his first transition into the spotlight, BLKBOK has been making music behind the scenes for some time. After college, he hit the road with Justin Timberlake and has since been the go-to for countless other artists including Rihanna, John Mayer, Demi Lovato, Timbaland, Duran Duran, Ciara and many others on their tours.
Born and raised in Detroit’s inner-city, BLKBOK (born Charles Wilson III), grew up in a music-filled house. While his parents and siblings were all musically active in church, little Charles could always be found walking his chubby fingers up and down the piano keys. His mom had no choice but to nurture her baby’s keyboard obsession and by the time he was 8, BLKBOK was an acclaimed piano prodigy, winning statewide accolades and college-level competitions. When it came to music, most of the kids he grew up with pursued hip-hop, adopting dope rapper names. However, it’s no coincidence that Charles chose the name BLKBOK, which echoes that of one of the greatest pianists and composers of all time. The tag is also an apt reflection of the elements that have contributed to the artist’s identity and symbolizes his colorful journey from pop and hip-hop culture to his present-day neo-classical debut album.