Monotone. Complacent. Lifeless. Just a few words to describe the album “Larger Than Life,” which is typically velvety smooth Brent Faiyaz’s third studio album.
Faiyez’s silky voice felt more like sandpaper this time around. The R&B artist, whose claim to fame has been toxic lyrics and drowned-out beats, just didn’t deliver in his trademark fashion.
There were a handful of verses that were downright lazy. He uses derogatory terms and corny rhymes that imply he’s running out of material. And while we’re on the subject of laziness, it may be worth noting the mediocre beginning to the album. There’s only one actual song through the first five songs out of a 14-track album.
Faiyaz kicks the project off with an overbearing intro interlude as he always does. I didn’t have a problem with this, as the soundbites and samples Faiyaz throws into these interludes are fun, but after his track with Missy Elliot and Lil Gray, there are three straight songs under two minutes.
This run of songs — or should I say sloppily made nursery rhymes — isn’t a good look for Faiyaz. There’s no rhythm to get the album going because each song is too short for the listener to fully enjoy.
Not only was the beginning of the album underwhelming, but it threw me off my game. This sounds cheesy to say… I know, I know. But seriously, I was already over “Larger Than Life” by the time I got to the actual songs.
To follow up five sorry excuses for songs, Faiyaz delivers with five full-length tracks. They’re listenable at best. Besides “Moment Of Your Life” with R&B queen Coco Jones, these songs almost put me to sleep.
Jones and Faiyaz sound incredibly in sync, and it deserves to be celebrated, but Faiyaz bores listeners once more with “Outside All Night” and “Wherever I Go.” Jones was one of the only features on this album that was able to carry their weight, which is surprising considering A$AP Rocky is on this album.
I was looking forward to his feature the most, but his vibe just felt off. Rocky wanted to do his own thing, but it sounded as if he was being forced into matching Faiyaz’s tone. He bounced between R&B and his typical rap style, and it made for a funky listen.
“And the ice all white like Karen’s / And it shine so bright like Paris,” was a fun bar from Rocky, reminding me of why I’ve grown to love the Harlem rapper. Ultimately, it was frustrating as a listener to have Faiyaz pulling Rocky out of his signature hip-hop flow and into a forced-sounding R&B lullaby.
“Upset,” the ninth track on the album, is the only other song on the project worth bringing up in a positive light. Faiyaz finally wakes up, likely to match the head-bopping beat, and sounds like the Brent we fell in love with on his past — and highly praised — albums “Sonder Son” and “WASTELAND.” His counterparts on the track, Tommy Richman and FELIX!, each bring a unique style that I instantly fell in love with.
The rest of the project is such a letdown. The lyrics remain amateur, and the additional artists Faiyaz brought in for this album were all pretty unknown performers who should get comfortable being nobodies after their features.
A$AP ANT sucks. I’m not even going to give him the time of day to explain where he went wrong. He just sucks, no other way to put it. His inability to stay on a pretty simple beat mixed with crude lyrics, made this a moment he’ll want to forget.
CruddyMurda was arguably even worse than ANT on “On This Side,” and the outlandish lyrics they spewed all song rubbed off on Faiyaz.
The verses I heard from the trio on “On This Side,” and some other poorly timed lyrics from Faiyaz on “Pistachios” made me wonder if cancel culture isn’t all that bad after all. Hopefully “On This Side” will be a career-ending performance for ANT and CruddyMurda.
They spit out lines not even worth throwing in this review and sounded like they belonged in a homemade SoundCloud song from your local high school delinquent rather than supposedly one of R&B’s best artists.
Faiyaz has come through time and time again on his individual projects, and the work that he’s done with his group Sonder, but there’s no way to sugarcoat it; Faiyaz really missed the mark on “Larger Than Life.” If you’re going to call yourself a superstar, then you’ve got to be nearly flawless, and Faiyaz was anything but flawless on this project.
From the lyrics to the artists he picked for this album, Faiyaz shot himself in the foot and rubbed salt in the wound. He was his own worst enemy and delivered a relatively small package on an album boldly titled “Larger Than Life.” Luckily for the R&B staple, perhaps it’s only up from here.