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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Redefining R&B

Intertwining nostalgia and modernity in Faiyaz’s latest project is put on display
Capturing the Essence of R&B Evolution: Brent Faiyaz’s ‘Larger Than Life’ album cover blends contemporary style with a nod to R&B’s rich heritage. The cover art mirrors the album’s fusion of modern beats and soulful melodies, inviting listeners into Faiyaz’s unique musical journey. It’s a visual representation of the artist’s growth and his journey through the ever-changing landscape of rhythm and blues.

Brent Faiyaz’s latest album “Larger Than Life,” released unexpectedly on Oct 27, 2023, through UnitedMasters and Faiyaz’s label ISO Supremacy, presents a mixed bag that has generated varied reactions from listeners and critics alike. The album, spanning 14 tracks, showcases Faiyaz’s exploration beyond his typical sonic realms while attempting to retain his core R&B essence.

“Larger Than Life” marks a pivotal moment in Faiyaz’s career. Released under his ISO supremacy imprint in partnership with UnitedMasters, this project finds Faiyaz expanding his vision and artistry. The album opens with “Tim’s Intro,” featuring strings, a funky bassline, and a breezy acoustic guitar, setting a nostalgic yet contemporary tone. The raw drums of “Last One Left” introduce a groove that continues throughout the album, showcasing his versatility in blending traditional R&B with modern vibes.

The album kicks off with “Tim’s Intro,” which immediately immerses listeners in a nostalgic mood, reminiscent of ’90s R&B, through its sampling of TLC’s “No Scrubs.” Faiyaz’s voice is the centerpiece here, exuding confidence and a flirtatious charm. This intro sets a promising tone for the album, blending a sense of old-school R&B with modern sensibilities.

However, as the album progresses, it becomes apparent that this project lacks the thematic depth and cohesion found in Faiyaz’s earlier works. While individually engaging, the tracks collectively give off an impression of being randomly assembled rather than thoughtfully curated.

The array of featured artists, including Missy Elliott, Lil Gray and Coco Jones, bring diverse flavors to the project, yet, their presence sometimes overshadows Faiyaz’s artistry. Missy Elliott’s presence adds a touch of R&B royalty, while Lil Gray brings a fresh, contemporary feel. The song is a nod to the era of Timbaland, Aaliyah, and Missy Elliott, with Brent’s lyrics delving into themes of possessiveness and control. The beat, slow-paced and straightforward, allows Faiyaz’s passionate vocals to shine despite the verse feeling somewhat subdued compared to the energetic chorus.

Songs like “WY@” maintain Faiyaz’s reputation for catchy tunes and clever wordplay but lack the emotional depth and vulnerability that characterized his earlier albums. “WY@” features engaging lyrics about addiction to a partner, with Faiyaz’s vocals conveying a sense of longing and vulnerability. This track is a testament to his ability to create infectious melodies that resonate emotionally with listeners.

The production quality across “Larger Than Life” is undoubtedly high, with tracks like “Pistachios” showcasing Faiyaz’s ability to blend modern beats with his smooth vocals. But the lyrical content, once the essence of Faiyaz’s appeal, feels underwhelming, lacking the introspection that fans have come to expect from him.

“Best Time” is a track where Faiyaz plays with influences from The Neptunes, specifically channeling a Pharrell-like aura. The hook is catchy, and Faiyaz’s vocals meld seamlessly with the flipped beat from Kelis’s “I Hate You.” While it doesn’t reach the heights of some of his other tracks, it’s a solid nod to Virginia’s musical heritage and maintains an upbeat tempo that contrasts nicely with Faiyaz’s typically darker themes. This track is a highlight, often considered one of the best love songs of 2023. Faiyaz and Coco Jones create a dynamic reminiscent of classic R&B duets. Their vocal performances are rich and sensual, though there seems to be a slight disconnect in their vocal synergy. Despite this, the track successfully captures the essence of a romantic interlude with its soulful and touching tones.

“Pistachios” is an intriguing track where Faiyaz uses metaphorical language to explore various themes. The song’s tranquilizing beat complements Faiyaz’s smoothest vocals. It encapsulates the essence of Faiyaz’s style – confident, laid-back and effortlessly cool.

Brent Faiyaz’s “Larger Than Life” represents a significant evolution from his previous works, showcasing his growth as an artist while retaining the essence of his unique sound. In earlier projects like “Sonder Son” and the critically acclaimed “F the World,” Faiyaz established himself with a raw, introspective style, exploring themes of love, self-reflection, and societal issues. These albums set the stage for his distinctive blend of contemporary R&B with soulful and often moody undertones.

With “Larger Than Life,” Faiyaz takes a more expansive approach. While his previous works were marked by introspection and a darker tone, this album pivots towards a more upbeat and diverse sound. It’s as if Faiyaz is blending the introspective depth of “Sonder Son” with the more polished production and broader appeal of “F the World,” all while infusing a nostalgic yet fresh R&B vibe. This album not only consolidates his position in the R&B scene but also showcases his ability to evolve and experiment while staying true to his core artistic identity.

“Larger Than Life” is an engaging record that highlights Brent Faiyaz’s growth as an artist. While some tracks and guest appearances may be weaker than others, the album’s commitment to classic melodies and Timbaland-inspired production make it a valuable addition to Faiyaz’s catalog. At the same time, the album feels like a step sideways for Brent Faiyaz. It’s an album that, while showcasing his undeniable talent and potential for growth, fails to capture the unique essence that made his previous works stand out. It’s a compilation that, while sonically pleasing, doesn’t quite leave a lasting impact. For Faiyaz, this album seems more like an experiment in sound rather than a definitive statement of his artistic direction. 4/5

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About the Contributor
Eddie Shi
Eddie Shi, Staff Reporter
Eddie is a senior at Millard West starting his third year on the CATalyst staff. He enjoys analyzing and reviewing new technology. He also enjoys writing reviews for games and albums. Eddie enjoys traveling to many different areas worldwide to experience brand-new cultures. He is the Millard West tennis team captain. Eddie looks forward to writing for the CATalyst newspaper.

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