I first heard Brent Faiyaz when my younger brother put me onto him in 2016. By putting me on, I mean he told me about Sonder – Victoria and let me get on with it. To provide context, Sonder are an Emo-RnB collective compiled of Brent as the sole voice, and production coming from Soulection’s very own Dpat and Atu… and this is where my intro into young Faiyaz begins.
When I first listened to Victoria, my first initial thoughts were “who is this harmonising in such a way?” and “I need to see what else this person/people had to offer. Enter Undone and Sheath. Serving as a 3-piece special (with fries), all three 10-12 minute Soundcloud releases can exist as stand-alones or as a cohesive intro to the capabilities of this young and talented super group. They sort of remind me of the Oklahoma City Thunder back in 2012 (let’s forget about how the Finals panned out). They had Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook and James Harden, so much potential as a collective, but aside from that, still as effective and prolific as individuals.
Now, I had already been a fan of Dpat and more so Atu – if you have never listened to the latter before, please take time out of your day and reach for Pictures of Silence – so my research into them didn’t need to extend that far. Brent, however, was a little bit more of a mystery. Enter December 2016. Enter Crew by Goldlink. I hadn’t heard BF outside of his usual Sonder setting, but was instantly drawn into this song because Faiyaz’s hook was so catchy, without being corny.
My research extended further after this moment and little did I know, the man that blessed us with one of my favourite hooks of the last year, had a mini-catalogue of his own (1657 plays of Crew later and I finally took some time out to see what my man was capable of on his own). Enter A.M. Paradox.
This isn’t going to be an album review, so if that’s what you’re after you better reach for Pitchfork or one of them one dere. A.M. Paradox is one of my favourite EPs of the past 2/3 years and for good reason. It starts with a song called Lovely, produced by Russ (Dpat) and Harden (Atu) and is a great opportunity to see KD (BF) in full bloom. For as much as I love Sonder and trust me, that’s a lot, I do sometimes feel like the expert production and consistent sampling doesn’t always allow for Brent to truly exhaust his capabilities, which is why this EP was such a pleasant surprise. Going from strength to strength, from Insecure to Invite Me, and from Poison into my personal favourite track No One Knows. Given the eclectic range of producers used Brent surpassed my expectations in terms of his versatility. He goes from slow and melodic to fast paced and harmonious, with no perceived lack in effort – like Crew before it, I must have listen to this project a thousand times before putting it down.
This brings me onto where we are at now! 2017 saw the release of Sonder’s first official project INTO. A 7 song sombre, reflective piece which has continued my affinity to Sonder, but more specifically, Brent Faiyaz. When I listened to it, the first feeling I had was one of nostalgia. It reminded me of the first time I listened to The Weeknd or Frank Ocean. Though not as druggy as his predecessors, these songs and his sound share the same vibe, cadence and content as two artist that got me through the 4-years I spent at Uni. Whether he’ll become as big a star as the aforementioned remains to be seen, but if he continues at this rate, he’ll be well on his way to collecting MVP honours. Check out INTO below: