The Daily Gamecock

Review: Brent Faiyaz's 'WASTELAND' sees the birth of R&B's newest talent

Recording artist Brent Faiyaz arriving on the red carpet at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Jan. 28, 2018. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/TNS)
Recording artist Brent Faiyaz arriving on the red carpet at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Jan. 28, 2018. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/TNS)

Album: WASTELAND by Brent Faiyaz

Release Date: July 8, 2022

Runtime: 1 hour and 4 minutes 

Rating: A

In his second studio album "WASTELAND," Brent Faiyaz settles into his place in a growing pantheon of R&B singers whose lyrics often focus on the morally questionable aspects of romance. A list of acts that includes The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor and Giveon, now sees Faiyaz solidified as its newest name.

"WASTELAND" tells the story of Faiyaz's troubles navigating through life with his newfound fame and how this affects his relationship with his pregnant lover.

The theme of the album is set in its third song "GRAVITY." Faiyaz sings, "I'm on / but you want me home / I'd get you what you want / But you want me alone." The workload he bears because of his status, leading to shortcomings in his love life, is a consistent theme throughout the album.

In "SKIT: EGOMANIAC," Faiyaz's partner expresses that she doesn't feel supported in the relationship. She is ignored however, as the skit ends with Faiyaz going to wait for his ride to the airport after receiving a text from his manager. 

With his continued emotional unavailability straining his relationship, the song "GHETTO GATSBY" sees Faiyaz trying to reassure his lover with luxuries, to no avail. "Move you to a place, still ain't what you wanted / New new face, still not Lauren London," he raps over a very minimal instrumental. 

The album features similar instrumentals throughout. The production being simplistic allows Brent's unapologetic and self-aware lyrics to stand out. The tone he takes toward the women in his life on this album is often one of apathy, as they choose to be with him despite his warnings that he isn't the best option for those looking for a long-term partner. 

This is made apparent in various places on the album, but it is most obvious on the song "ROLLING STONE" in which Faiyaz sings "Ask my lovers, I'm troubled / First I'm exciting then I'm gaslighting, make up your mind." The aforementioned gaslighting he refers to occurs on the hook of the same song in which he sings "I'm sorry in advance if I let you down."

The way he structures this song encapsulates the honest yet simultaneously toxic persona that endears Faiyaz to his fans. The use of an apology as a premeditated justification for his actions and subsequent contempt for those who condemn him, rather than a genuine expression of remorse, is a perfect example of the emotional manipulation his partner speaks of.

These are balanced by the moments in which Faiyaz appears to genuinely care for his partners' well-being, one of which coming on "HEAL YOUR HEART (INTERLUDE)" in which he sings "I know your flaws, I know what makes you who you are, girl / I wish I had all the answers to heal your heart."

However, these moments are few and far between, with all of them being contradicted by Faiyaz's self-acknowledged character flaws. On the song "ADDICTIONS," Faiyaz questions if his behavior is caused by vices, such as drug abuse or lust, and ponders the idea that he should take accountability for his actions. 

This, like the other moments of self-awareness and introspection, is undercut pretty quickly. "BAD LUCK" sees Faiyaz blame his lover for the adversities in their relationship as well as other problems in his life. 

"And it's all because of you / that I'm always having such bad luck," he sings. This refusal to be accountable for his actions after emotionally manipulating his lover leads to the events of the "SKIT: WAKE UP CALL" in which Faiyaz's lover attempts suicide because she fears their baby will grow up in broken family.

"WASTELAND" proved to be an interesting ride with a visceral ending. Showing clear storytelling ability, vocal strength and lyrical complexity, Faiyaz has cemented his place as R&B's newest bad guy.