Brent Faiyaz Credit: courtesy the artist

Goldlink’s runaway 2017 hit “Crew” would be nothing without the buttery-smooth vocal hook from Brent Faiyaz. Raised in Columbia, a Maryland suburb that rests on an axis between Baltimore and D.C., the 22-year-old tried his hand at being an MC before he received a Twitter DM from a stranger advising him to stop rapping and focus his on other aspects of his music. Faiyaz wisely followed suit, making the stranger his manager. These days Faiyaz lives in Los Angeles, where he fronts a neosoul trio called Sonder, and he recently released his first album as a solo artist, October’s Sonder Son (Lost Kids). The record is pitched as an autobiographical effort, and while it can take several dozen listens for the lyrics to seep in, his supple, luxurious voice is a wonder unto itself. I’ve frequently been spellbound listening to his vocals shape-shift throughout Sonder Son, which offers a cornucopia of sonic elements for Faiyaz to play off of, be it a finely plucked acoustic guitar (“First World Problemz/Nobody Carez,” “Talk 2 U”), sluggish modern-funk percussion (“Gang Over Luv”), echo-treated guitars (“Needed”), or what sounds like a small army of hand drums (“So Far Gone/Fast Life Bluez”).   v