Sport Editor, Charlie Metcalfe, brings you a feature on an underrated artist you may not have heard of: Brent Faiyaz.
Brent Faiyaz has been bringing a consistent beat to the R&B scene for the past few years now. He only really moved into the spotlight in 2017 with the release of his group, Sonder’s, album Into, which was listed on Complex’s ‘The Best Albums of 2017’. In October later that year Faiyaz swiftly transcended “one hit wonder” territory with his solo studio album Sonder Son, and has been selling out concerts across the USA with Sonder since.
I first heard, or rather noticed, Faiyaz in April this year on a trip with a Norwegian friend through Eastern Europe. We were sitting in the back seat of our friend’s Range Rover, cruising down the mountainside that overlooks Tirana, Albania, as the setting sun lit up the small lakes that cut up the lowland areas around the city. Andreas was on the AUX and played Too Fast, a single released by Sonder in 2016. The windows were open and a strange sound began to build and mingle with the rushing air and the orange dust on the horizon; the kind of sound that plays when a UFO is approaching in an 80’s sci-fi flick. Faiyaz’s calm vocals began to drift in “… ain’t no such thing as too fast for me…”, with the strings providing a smooth undertone. Gradually the song builds, the strings increase, percussion gets involved and falsetto vocals take us to a different planet. The song left me thinking: “What on earth was THAT?”
Sitting at a table in Thessaloniki later that month, I realised that I actually already knew Faiyaz from Talk 2 U off his solo album. Sonder, the group, and Faiyaz as a solo act have very different sounds. The producers and remaining members of Sonder, Atu and Dpat’s music is characterised by increasing the tones and layers to the tracks on which the vocals play. Faiyaz is fortunate that his voice works equally well on a more two-dimensional track built with acoustics and a simple percussion base.
In terms of his solo work, Sonder Son begins with an intro of his mother shouting up to his bedroom, calling him downstairs to discuss his school report card. His lyrics draw influence from the small things in life, and his references involve simple scenarios. In Stay Down his heart is “jumping like Jordans”, and in Gang over Luv he’s “chasin’ dreams and girls”. His ‘renaissance vocals’ that are a throwback to an early-2000’s style with easy-going, simplified lyrics aren’t the only aspect of his attraction. Part of the 23-year-old’s allure is his apparent childlike innocence, his Peter Pan-like mentality.
With other R&B male artists currently on the scene producing mature music that is progressive by nature, Faiyaz uses a smooth, sit-back-and-relax mood that doesn’t ask too much of the listener. This was the same note that Frank Ocean was hitting on Channel Orange; think Super Rich Kids and Pink Matter vibe. The message was: relax your head and let the music take you.
Featured image by: Amie Woodyatt