Album: Fuck The World
Artist: Brent Faiyaz
Record Labels: Lost KiDs
Recommended Tracks: Track 4 – Fuck The World (Summer in London) and Track 5- Let Me Know
Christopher Brent Woods, better known as Brent Faiyaz, is a 24 year old musician from the DMV who has piloted his fair share of suave buttery choruses. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ve likely heard his vocal stylings on the GoldLink song “Crew” which utilized Faiyaz on sticky hook that exudes braggadocio and confidence. The DMV players anthem hit 45 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is still GoldLink’s peak chart performance (as well as Faiyaz’s). Faiyaz has lent his guest vocals to choruses on quite a few rap tracks, much in the tradition of the up and coming R&B artist trying to draw on two genres shared audience. Namely, he was featured on a few of his late labelmate Juice WRLD’s songs across his first two projects. Fuck The World is Faiyaz’s second commercial album, his first being the heartfelt yet uncatchy and ultimately forgetable Sonder Son. On this album Faiyaz trends away from all-encompassing autobiography across various time periods of his life for a more simplistic examination of his current lifestyle of unsatisfactory excess, coping through drug use, and being what he calls an “empathic narcissist”. I would give this album a 2/5, as while think the narratives and themes that Faiyaz engages with are interesting and well developed within individual songs despite the album’s briefness, Faiyaz’s musical stylings just aren’t that engaging to me, and his commonplace subject matter and sound make him blend into the background of the multiplicity of similar R&B acts
My first standout track from this project is the (sort of) title track “Fuck The World (Summer in London)”. This track is an essential summation of many of the albums essential themes. Faiyaz says in the tracks first lines after an ever so original lighter clicks over faint sample intro, “(I wanna) fuck the world I’m a walking erection, spend without a thought we do it reckless”. Essentially, Faiyaz is quite promiscuous and is possessed by his gargantuan sexual appetite, therefore he is a walking erection. Secondly, he spends lavishly and without thought. These are both revealed throughout the album, Faiyaz’s discography, and some of the promotional/explicatory material around Faiyaz’s discography as coping mechanisms for the fundamental mistrust Faiyaz feels for those around him, Faiyaz’s aforementioned personality “flaws”, and Faiyaz’s struggle with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. This is a narrative essential to modern rap, and yet I don’t think Faiyaz’s contributions are unwelcome. For one, Faiyaz makes it clear that his music is based on lived experiences and personal truths. He’s not parroting platitudes, he’s documenting his own genuine experience with these issues which are common rap fodder. However, while Faiyaz’s lyrical take is individual, compelling, and personal, his musical decisions might as well be algorithmic. Faiyaz has been penalized before in critical writing for lack of experimentation, and I don’t think that’s more apparent anywhere than this album. Faiyaz sounds like he’s trying to expand his personal lease on his niche of R&B, and he describes himself as genreless, however he doesn’t dare venture into any unfamiliar or even interesting instrumentation.
My second standout track directly follows my last on the tracklist. “Let Me Know” utilizes some cozy piano melodies, which really compliment Faiyaz’s often unnoteworthy vocals. The song questions how Faiyaz is expected to love someone when “They tell [him] he can’t love [himself]”. The song is an anthem of love being an all powerful force that can trump all the world’s injustices, which is a classic song concept however Faiyaz executes it simply and tastefully. The drums on this track are a perfect encapsulation of its smooth simplicity, as they follow a very simple pattern but are just crisp and groovy enough to drive the song.
If Faiyaz wants to preserve his longevity on subsequent projects, I hope he is able to find the same truthfulness and individuality in his musical voice that he has found in his actual one. Especially when Faiyaz is attempting to add to a narrative cannon that is so essential to the genres of rap and R&B, it’s difficult to approach him as more than a replication of an archetype or cliche when his production is indistinguishable from his contemporaries. If you like Brent Faiyaz, I would check out SiR, Leven Kali, or Berhana, who I’ve reviewed before. I’d definitely check out this album if you need a break from the hollowness of exorbitant spending and sexual escapades, or are a fan of The Weeknd or other similarly unapologetically narcissistic acts.