Wonderland.

BRENT FAIYAZ

Meet the 23-year-old Maryland crooner combining intricate musical excellence with defiant outspokenness.

Jacket and trousers MARNI, vest MUJI, shoes CONVERSE.

Jacket and trousers MARNI, vest MUJI, shoes CONVERSE.

Taken from the Autumn 19 issue of Wonderland. Order your copy of the issue now.

23-year-old Maryland crooner Brent Faiyaz comments apathetically on his music’s position, speaking volumes about his art and the artist himself. He answers the admittedly tedious question of how he’d describe his own soundbluntly: “Brent Faiyaz… Some people love [my music] because they can feel it. Some people hate it because they can feel it. But either way, you can’t deny that it makes you feel something. Long as you feel it, my job is done. That part is undeniable.”

Striking as it is to see a singer so brazenly indifferent towards the affect his music has, the bold statement is characteristically backed up by substance, Faiyaz quickly expounding his point: “No creative has an undying loyalty to a particular genre. Culturally, all music has its roots, but creativity is fluid.” A miscellaneous musical upbringing is perhaps the root of this antipathy towards genre, Faiyaz recalling the way in which he would absorb the array of CDs his mother and older brother would put on every day. He continues: “Genres are more to make it easier for people who don’t make music to understand, categorise, and attach a perspective to it. It separates the black artists from the white artists, the old from the young, Latin from UK. But it’s all music, we all do the same shit.”

Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue
Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue

Left: Jacket FENG CHEN WANG, shirt DSQUARED2. Right: Jacket and trousers MARNI, vest MUJI, jewellery BRENT’S OWN.

Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue
Left: Jacket FENG CHEN WANG, shirt DSQUARED2. Right: Jacket and trousers MARNI, vest MUJI, jewellery BRENT’S OWN.
Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue

Faiyaz’s latest single puts into practice this dichotomy between defiant, cheekily facetious simplicity and layered complexity. Boldly and belligerently entitled “Fuck The World (Summer in London)”, Faiyaz explains the July-released track is “about my woes & the ‘woah’s’… juggling the fly shit and the ‘why?’ shit.” Sonically “FTW (SIL)” is richly textured, pushing the boundaries of Faiyaz’s sound with blanketed, distorted vocal hooks, metronomic production and Frank Ocean-like real-life sound samples, combined to create the ideal instrumental ecosystem for Faiyaz’s ethereal vocal talent to flourish.

The bottomless and eclectic soundscape in the single is a good sign for Faiyaz’s upcoming EP — set to be released this year — but it by no means negates the importance the singer gives to the lyrical side of his music. “I think lyrics make the music stand the test of time,” he muses. “People still read literature dated from biblical times, and memorise it word-for-word. Lyrics are prophetic. When you weave music and literature you’re hitting a force more powerful than nature. That’s how movements are started.” Faiyaz sees his lyrics as a vehicle for capturing the zeitgeist with posterity and legacy in mind, and you certainly won’t find the singer shying away from discussions about current affairs and the state of the world.

Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue

Left: Shirt and trousers JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN, vest MUJI, shoes CAT FOOTWEAR. Right: Hat and vest BRENT’S OWN.

Left: Shirt and trousers JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN, vest MUJI, shoes CAT FOOTWEAR. Right: Hat and vest BRENT’S OWN.
Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue

On his 2017 debut album Sonder Son, he deftly draws a parallel between pop-culture and the socio-political issues that plague America. “This n*gga starving, impoverished […] Trump don’t give a fuck,” he raps in “First World Problemz/Nobody Carez” before quickly turning the microscope on the listener themselves: “Your favourite artist don’t give a motherfucking fuck. Do you give a fuck?”

Faiyaz’s willingness to be vocal about contemporary society seeps beyond his music, and he speaks freely about what he sees to be one of the most disturbing phenomenons in modern America: The Prison Industrial Complex, and the way it disproportionately targets and criminalises black people for private profit. “The state of Maryland makes billions every year off of its inmates,” he continues. “They do everything from maintaining the highways to working in call centres. If those beds aren’t full, they lose money. They treat us like shit, and then try their hardest to justify it. America is like a huge house built on a shitty foundation. It’s all gonna crumble.”

This combination of intricate musical excellence and defiant outspokenness has made Faiyaz one of the most hyped names in the industry at the moment, and deservedly so. The rapper’s lyrical prioritisation has capitalised on today’s ultra-shareability of words, the choice to use his platform as an instrument for change an example to any artist, and proof that musical integrity need not be sacrificed in order to convey a message. And with a new EP slated for later this year, here’s hoping Brent Faiyaz will continue to spread the word for many years to come.

Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue

Jacket and trousers DANIEL W. FLETCHER, shoes CONVERSE.

Wonderland Brent Faiyaz interview Autumn 19 issue
Jacket and trousers DANIEL W. FLETCHER, shoes CONVERSE.
Photography
Jack Bridgland
Fashion
Toni-Blaze Ibekwe
Grooming
Doey Drummond
Set Design
Lyndon Ogbourne
Production
Federica Barletta
Words
Francesco Loy Bell
Burberry Jacket Artwork
Joshua Myszczynski
Special thanks to
Cobtree Cottage Piltdown
BRENT FAIYAZ