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Brent Faiyaz Releases Surprise Mixtape, “Larger Than Life”

Brent Faiyaz has become one of the defining voices in R&B, amassing a cult following for his brutally transparent, almost toxic brand of music. What earned him a huge internet following finally culminated with his second album, WASTELAND, which earned him his first three placements on the top 100 charts (the highest being the Drake-assisted “Wasting Time”) and a platinum plaque for the record as a whole. 

A bit over a year later, he’s back with another project, setting media outlets on red alert with the surprise announcement of a new mixtape, Larger Than Life. Brent Faiyaz’s first release under his newly minted ISO Supremacy label, the project arriving as a mixtape in the first place is worth discussing. It’s both a conscious nod to an earlier era in the industry, and a classification that contextualizes the songs here—maybe less grandiose and cinematic than what Brent delivered on WASTELAND, and instead shorted, more free-form pieces that flow perfectly into each other. 

Brent Faiyaz Takes Cues From Past Eras on Larger Than Life

But don’t just take our word for it. If the retro stamp Larger Than Life comes with wasn’t enough, the first voice we hear is from legendary producer Timbaland, the man behind scores of inescapable R&B hits in the 2000s. Instrumentally, a sample of TLC’s “No Scrubs” is the backdrop for Brent’s ruminations, another indication of the homage-filled world that follows. Indeed, “Last One Left,” coming right after, utilizes another sample: this time, Missy Elliot and Beyonce’s “Crazy Feelings.” Surrounding that is hazy, melodic production that’ll ring familiar for long-time fans and becomes a recurring theme as you work your way through the tape.

It’s fair to say that Brent Faiyaz isn’t reinventing the wheel on this one, but throughout, he provides the top-tier songwriting and sticky melody game that made him one of the genre’s dominant forces in the first place. The bite-sized “Best Time” is among the best in that regard, a Neptunes-like instrumental making his globe-trotting verse and ethereal harmonies all the more addictive. The same goes for “WY@,” probably the most nocturnal cut on Larger Than Life. Another exploration of a red flag-filled relationship, the singer still can’t bring himself to part ways. Singing, “after this time I’ll be through, for real,” the singer is certifiably hooked, and when the end product sounds this good, it’s impossible not to feel the same. 

Taken from @brentfaiyaz on Instagram.

Notable Features on the Singer’s First Mixtape

While Brent gets plenty of moments alone in the spotlight, there are also some notable collaborations that add a lot of texture and flavor. NYC’s A$AP Mob makes two appearances, with Ant popping up on “On This Side.” This is the fullest exploration of R&B of old in structure, with Ant and CruddyMurda providing the only two verses, while Faiyaz is solely on hook duty. A more generous balance comes with “Outside All Night,” the first collaboration between the crooner and A$AP Rocky, where the “Peso” rapper lays claim to the best verse on the project with a half-sung, heart-on-his-sleeve performance. Finally, “Moment of Your Life” sees the singer uniting with Coco Jones, a rising R&B star in her own right. Fittingly, they come together to produce a true bedroom ballad, and they’re both exemplary in that familiar territory.

All in all, Larger Than Life serves diehard Brent Faiyaz fans more than any other demographic—if you’re not already familiar with the singer, more accessible and mainstream stuff like what’s on his debut is probably a more fitting starting point. But, the material here demonstrates why he’s earned such a fervent fanbase in the first place, and signals that he’ll hold onto them for as long as he wants. You can find the mixtape now on all streaming platforms.

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@journeyiyanla on insta
@journeyiyanla on insta
6 months ago