At this point in his career, Brent Faiyaz’s discography, musical range and artistic talent have all soared past the confines of your average alternative/R&B icon. His new album, Larger than Life, surprise-released on Oct. 27, was teased with the releases of “Moment of Your Life” and “WY@,” and yet the six-hour notice to the album’s drop was not enough to mentally prepare me for its beauty.
In sync with its title, Larger than Life’s album cover displays Faiyaz’s domination over his fictional world, parallelling his ability to soar across music platforms and land himself in the top 30 of Spotify’s Top Albums chart. The addition of his clothing brand on the shoe’s sole - NUWO (which stands for Not Unless We Own) - emphasizes his ability to cross artistic boundaries and establish himself in numerous markets, emulating Tyler, the Creator’s success with his street-wear brand, Golf Wang.
The album gives listeners a glimpse into Faiyaz’s life as he navigates fame and the pressure to continue to produce music as well as uphold an intense industry expectation to become “Larger than Life,” leading him to capitalize on the chronicles of his romantic and sexual relationships. Synonymous with a capital theme of his previous album, WASTELAND, we hear how Faiyaz tends to manipulate others, particularly women, to secure validation and boost his ego, affirming his fame and success on a more personal level. While classically toxic, his coping mechanisms make for an amalgamation of R&B, Afrobeat and rap-influenced songs that become instant additions to any daily playlist.
Adding onto the precedent of WASTELAND, Faiyaz reminisces on his emotional mistakes with songs like “Whenever I Go,” while also maintaining his domineering attitude in interludes like “Big Mad Skit” which secured him the label of toxic. The rollercoaster of emotions he exhibits is nothing new for avid listeners, as his confusing mood changes combined with the impeccable production throughout his discography make his music addictive.
This album is also specifically pleasing because it marks Faiyaz’s return to his older and more consistent sound, particularly his music from his 2017 Album Sonder Son and his 2022 EP released with his group Sonder, Too Late to Die Young, which also has more musically cemented artists like Missy Elliot and A$AP Ant. The highlights of the return of “classic Brent” come from my personal favorite track, “Best Time,” due to its similarity to “Indonesian Fantasies.” Faiyaz’s vocals are set up behind a singular drum beat and kick, allowing for his voice to truly radiate over the instrumental, shining through most of the other tracks on the album.
Other stars from the new release include “Tim’s Intro,” “Moment of Your Life,” “Whenever I Go” and “WY@,” most of which retain Faiyaz’s iconic sound due to their isolation of his voice, bringing a nostalgic feel to his brand-new additions. For the most part, his features also added a stratified and elevated sound to the album, with especially consistent inclusions from Coco Jones, A$AP Rocky, N3WYRKLA, and FELIX! I truly appreciated his choice to include less-streamed artists in his music, but the amateur nature of these artists interrupted the general flow of the album. Verses from Lil Gray and CruddyMurda didn’t fully match the energy and cohesion constructed by Brent, which in turn made the features feel crammed into the discography rather than being the ideal fit for the song.
Regardless, Faiyaz’s shock release was a satisfying inclusion to his already impressive discography, dazzling his fans and introducing them to numerous smaller artists. The release simultaneously establishing Faiyaz as a model in the R&B alternative scene with his captivating voice and famed public image.
Thumbnail courtesy of Brent Faiyaz.