It has been a rapid rise to the top for Maryland's own Brent Faiyaz thanks to commercial success from his 2016 feature on “Crew” by Goldlink and the release of his pandemic project “Fuck the World.” Now having the rhythm and blues scene in the palm of his hands, the artist has released his sophomore album “Wasteland.”
Faiyaz is more than the toxic figurehead that so many individuals have labeled him throughout social media. This album has moments of intimacy and honesty that are not commonly shared by most R&B artists.
In addition, Faiyaz puts on a theatrical display of his progress as an artist from expanding his production choice and honing in on his vocal strengths. Songs like “Loose Change” feature glistening violin strings and sharp staccato notes that you would not have heard in previous works like “Lost” or “A.M. Paradox.” It was also great to see previously teased songs finally reach the surface like “FYTB” produced by Che Pope & Prep Bijan.
A dystopian energy is delivered by Brent’s angelic voice and chilling production from producers such as NO I.D., Paperboy Fabe, Jordan Ware and more. It would be remiss of me not to mention Alicia Keys' highlight of a rap feature whose tone reminded me of Jhene Aiko “Tryna Smoke” or the ending of “You Don’t Know My Name.”
This album sonically has no issues, but the fluidity is in question. Many songs do not seem to flow well between one another, which is caused by some songs seeming out of place on this album. Tracks like “Wasting Time,” “Gravity,” “Price of Fame” and “Dead Man Walking” do not fit the timeline of the album release since these were already well-known songs to the public.
The skits as well add a strange take to the album that may have not been needed, but “Skit: Wake Up Call” was a notable part of the project. However, in an interview with Malik Peay of the Grammy Awards, he admits that “Wasteland” was a compilation of songs that were later put together.
The disjunct feeling of the album does draw similarities to “Wasteland” cover that has Brent portraying three different emotions.
“Wasteland” has a different energy than his previous work which is by no means a negative. This album will go down as one of the most memorable albums of the year. Sonically, Brent has raised the bar for his fellow contemporary male R&B singers.
He defined this album during a Twitter space Q+A as a “space with no consequence… moments of clarity are few and far between feeding into lustful desires.” It was great to see that he didn’t play too much into his ‘toxic’ brand and stuck to his artistic ideas.
The amazing talent that was recruited for this album was not wasted, and the “Lost Kid” himself proves to be one of the most interesting artists of this generation.
I give this project an 8.5 out of 10.