“She sees money all around me; I look like I’m the man…”
Life for Baltimore, Maryland based singer Brent Faiyaz changed in 2017. Years after being a thing talked about on Twitter and close circles; he managed to become one of the more memorable voices of the year. “Crew,” the GoldLink and Shy Glizzy assisted track from the Washington D.C.’s At What Cost album became an instant staple on the airwaves. Infectious through and through, the song peaked as the perfect song of the summer and one of 2017’s best. It was nominated for a Grammy, making Faiyaz, 22, a sort of household name.
The trend upward continued early into 2018 as well. When the Golden Globes were transitioning into commercial, an ad for Donald Glover’s highly-acclaimed FX series Atlanta played. “Too Fast” by Sonder, the group that Faiyaz fronts played throughout. Once again, all attention was diverted back to Sonder and Faiyaz. In an era where word of mouth is a far stronger currency in breaking new artists than ever before, Faiyaz is a bit of a throwback. His voice is velvety and smooth; his songs twist around about real-life romance and ambition.
For two nights in Houston this week, tonight and tomorrow, he’ll have a small, sold-out residency at White Oak Music Hall. Formed in 2016, Sonder, consisting of Faiyaz, Dpat and Atu built a sound around relaxed, ethereal R&B. “Too Fast,” the breakthrough single from their Intro EP has clocked well over a million plays on SoundCloud, hundred of thousands more after the song premiered in the Atlanta commercial.
“Sonder,” is one of Faiyaz’ favorite words. It’s tattooed above his right eyebrow and became part of his own debut album, Sonder Son released late last year. The definition? The realization that each random passerby lives a life as vivid and complex as your own, causing each of our unique experiences to flow into each other. Faiyaz’ perspective on love and self-discovery in regards to crafting songs that stick with you is refreshing. “Long as the day ends / I made some plans with some good friends,” he sings on “First World Problemz / Nobody Carez.” “But it could be the worst conversation.”
Faiyaz influences track around from fellow DMV creative Timbaland to 2Pac, With the world in front of him, he’s not thinking of full, sweeping changes in music. He just wants his own voice to be appreciated and heard as it was on “Crew.” It would be a sweet, sweet victory for him.
Brent Faiyaz and Sonder play White Oak Music Hall on Tuesday, February 13 and Wednesday, February 14.