From the man who delivered one of the most unforgettable hooks on a staple song of 2017 (arguably of all time), comes a solo project that revitalized the soul and the very essence of what R&B is. This is not a diss, it’s a disclaimer: R&B (rhythm blues) has evolved from subtle messages of sex and ballads about authentic love and pain to more of a billboard-chart tailored, gritty rap-esque genre where singers promote the glories of being savages and throwing money at the strip club; similar content to the rappers they sing hooks for. This is not at all to discredit the evolution of R&B as a genre, even if it differs much from R&B of the past, but Brent Faiyaz adds to the newest anthology of pure, classic R&B with a New Skool twist alongside individuals such as Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, and DVSN.
And y’all he’s doing it with tear-inducing levels of beauty.
It’s so beautiful when an R&B singer of the modern age stays in their lane instead of trying to copy the hybrid form of rapper/hardcore R&B singer popularized by Drake, Bryson Tiller, and Tory Lanez. Here I give you a track by track review of a new masterpiece.
“Home” is a beautiful intro in which Faiyaz comes out swinging with the same captivating voice that had the nation hooked on “Crew”. Nostalgia about report cards and parents was a real aspect that showed he was like the regular-degular brother going through the struggles of life. This everyday human realness was exemplified even more in the follow-up track “Gang Over Love” in which Faiyaz captivated again with a beautiful transition speaking of how it was to be “young and dumb.” Even though he’s based in the East Coast, one could hear the West Coast beat knocking adding a much-appreciated spice to its already established tasteful sounds. What’s wild about the following song, “Burn One Interlude” is the fact that the track was less than two minutes but better than singers’ entire careers.
Faiyaz got it like that, family.
“First World Problemz/Nobody Carez” is incredibly knocking and energetic, showing how much of a true musician Faiyaz is while actually focusing on Rhythm and Blues. “Missin Out” is one of my favorites on the album, not just for the West Coast vibe expressed again, but because the track focuses on his vocal ability and in the same vein tells a ballad of a broke young working man searching for a chilled-out smoke session with a young woman. The way in which he executes his story shows how much he relates to his demographic and that he is not trying to front something he isn’t.
“Stayin Down” was a pure love ballad with a magnificent flow. In “L.A”, through his great storytelling, we found the rationale for the West Coast influenced sounds within Sonder Son. I hate to be one of those “When ___________ said _______________, I felt that” dudes, but when Brent Faiyaz was serenading in the most soulful manner talking about his account being overdrawn and being drunk in the uber, I REALLLLLLY felt that.
“Talk 2 U” was a magnificent tribute to 90s R&B from a single esoteric new artist, reminiscent of the sounds of Jodeci and Dru Hill. You ever listen to Brent Faiyaz as the sun comes out of the clouds to shine on what will be a wonderful day? This was the exact experience his music gave me.
The “Sonder Son interlude” was a beautiful tie-in, with “So Far Gone” a song about true pain, heartbreak, and a clever message of expressing sadness to long lost lovers. “Needed” is a definite contender for R&B song of the year; a song you listen to as the world is burning to the ground. Finishing off the breathtaking debut album is “All I Want”, one last quaint guitar ballad to string you along. Brent Faiyaz unequivocally proved that he is more than a hot hook, more than the average Baltimore dude. He’s one of the newest R&B Kings of this generation taking his rightful spot.