EP Review: Brent Faiyaz- Do Not Listen

Faiyaz returns with three new songs representing his gritty yet melodic sound.

Brent Faiyaz has had a hell of a year since the release of his EP F*ck the World. Since then, he’s been dropping singles such as Dead Man Walking and Gravity featuring Tyler the Creator along with appearances in other content such as the PGLang and Calvin Klein ad Solo. With his next album Make It Out Alive in the works, Faiyaz released his EP Do Not Listen on 2/8 as a surprise drop. This project continues to show Faiyaz’s blend of socially conscious and introspective themes with some brashness and indulgence

The track Circles featuring Purr is a reflection on independence and success in a world of social turmoil , as evident in lyrics such as “N****s dying everyday, but what can I say/They just want me to sing/ It’s like everyone wants you to think how they think and do what they say and stay out of the way/And if you don’t wanna, they got a problem with you.” The message of this track may remind listeners of the tensions surrounding 2020’s social movements like the Black Lives Matter protests and their influence on activism by public figures such as athletes and other celebrities. The track’s minimalist and claustrophobic production may be jarring to some, but fits its mood upon repeated listens. Paper Soldier featuring rapper Joony, with its funky and trap-influenced beat, is swaggering and cocky towards fame with the chorus: “I bet you wish that I was still right there, used to live right there, Now I’m everywhere, got bitches everywhere/I’m so debonair, I’m a millionaire, I act like I don’t care, that’s cause I don’t care.”

Arguably, the biggest highlight of the EP is Price of Fame, a two-part track with a bass-heavy first half slowing down into a guitar and vocal-heavy second half. Lines like “Is it cause my whip so fast you don’t see no flaws?/Is it cause my bitch so bad she blew you off?/All of the things they want” and “They don’t wanna give you time to heal, They just wanna bleed you dry for real” combined with the booming beat creates a sense of fame and debauchery crashing into you like a come down from a high. The second half enters some sort of therapeutic mood when Brent sings “You don’t need some to make you feel better than you’ve ever felt/What you need is someone who will be there when you don’t feel yourself,” which can be assumed as recognition of his music’s personal effect on people and need for fans to understand his longing for personal peace aside from his career.

Overall, Do Not Listen displays sincere songwriting skills that places Faiyaz on a much more intimate level than his peers in R&B. If the songs of this EP are signs of things to come, then we are in for a highly anticipated studio album later this year.

Score: 9/10

Written By: Kristian Gonzales

5 R&B Artists That You Need to Be Listening to Before the Year Ends

The past year has seen some great releases in the R&B world. Since spending the past 7 months in quarantine, I’ve gotten the chance to listen to and soak in the newer, promising acts within the industry. Let’s dive into some artists that you need to add to your playlist before the end of 2020.

Mariah the Scientist

Since releasing her label debut album Master with RCA Records in late 2019, the Atlanta singer-songwriter is a budding artist to keep an eye out for. Mariah the Scientist, who derives her name from once being a biology major, dropped out of college in 2018 to pursue music full-time. Despite being a newcomer, Mariah is one of the more interesting artists that I’ve listened to. She has had some interesting collaborations, including songs with Lil Baby and Trippie Redd, but her voice somehow makes it mesh. I’m excited to see how her career grows in the coming years.

Song recommendation: Beetlejuice

Lucky Daye

With his first studio album Painted earning him four nominations at the 2020 Grammy Awards, Lucky Daye has quickly made a name for himself in the industry. Since then, he has collaborated with platinum-selling artist Kehlani and has been featured on the fourth season soundtrack of HBO’s hit show Insecure. His smooth-as-butter voice is either coupled with bouncy production or slow ballads, showcasing how versatile his sound can be. In a DJBooth interview, he cites his musical influences from greats such as Prince, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, and Rick James. Lucky has shown that he knows how to navigate his sound, giving him great potential to develop as an artist.

Song recommendation: Late Night

Victoria Monét

Monét stepped into her debut project Jaguar already with a decorated list of songwriting credits for the likes of Nas, Ariana Grande, and Kendrick Lamar to name a few. Her light voice over groovy bass lines put her in a category of her own. You can hear the influences of disco and funk in her Khalid collaboration “Experience,” in which she sings “I’m all out of love, you gave it away / I’m hoping that experience can get you to change.” Her lyrics are playful yet demanding, which is what makes her music so fun to listen to. Victoria Monét’s confident and sensual songwriting will leave you wanting more.

Song recommendation: Big Boss (Interlude)

Kiana Ledé 

Hailing from Arizona, Kiana Ledé is not from your typical R&B-influenced region. Nevertheless, the 23-year old singer thrives in creating raw, emotional music that has successfully found its way onto the charts. What I admire about her is that she isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, and it’s reflected beautifully through her songs. In an interview with Elle, she speaks on her ability to share these emotions through her music, saying, “I’m able to be open about them because I’m talking from a healed place, a very removed place; I’ve already processed all those emotions.” Ledé takes ownership of her feelings and is very self-aware, which is what compelled me to dive further into the rest of her discography. Her album KIKI is a project that I highly recommend listening to from start to finish.

Song recommendation: Forfeit

Leven Kali

Leven Kali is definitely the most underrated artist on this list (in my opinion), but that doesn’t stop him from creating absolute bangers. I was first introduced to him through his song “Do U Wrong” featuring Syd, the lead singer of The Internet. He has released music reminiscent of the early 2000’s R&B sound–which can be heard in tracks like “MADE 4 U,” also featuring Syd. If Leven stays this consistent with releasing quality music, he’s bound to gain the recognition he deserves.

Song recommendation: Joy



Written By: Nathalie Lum

Photo Sources: Pitchfork and Lab.fm



5 Hip Hop and R&B Artists to Watch Out for in 2020

At the top of the year, it’s time to see which hip hop and r&b artists will be dropping new projects to hit the airwaves.

Without a doubt, 2019 proved to be another successful year in hip hop and r&b music. Rappers such as Tyler the Creator and Anderson Paak continue to impress listeners with genre bending projects like Igor and Ventura, while artists like Ari Lennox and Maxo Kream provide a throwback to the days when soul and hardcore rap reigned supreme. As the rest of 2020 rolls on, we look forward to new releases from some of the game’s hottest and up and coming figures.

The Weeknd – After Hours

Following a relatively quiet 2019 after the release of 2018’s My Dear Melancholy, The Weeknd returns on March 20th with the release of his fourth studio album After Hours. The first single,” Heartless,” finds the singer shrugging off relationships over a gritty Metro Boomin production, while “Blinding Lights” hearkens back to the 1980s synthpop influence of past projects such as “Starboy.” The self-titled track has been compared by some fans to his earlier work, most notably Trilogy, for its atmospheric production and dark lyrical content. Make sure to check out his After Hours Tour with opening acts Sabrina Claudio and Don Toliver, coming to San Diego on August 9th.

Drake – Untitled 6th Album

Following the meteoric success of 2018’s Scorpion and re-release of his seminal 2009 mixtape So Far Gone last year, it’s only a matter of time before the 6 God returns to dominate the airwaves again. As revealed in his Rap Radar interview with Elliott Wilson, Drake is working on a new album, with consideration towards a shorter track list akin to 2013’s Nothing Was the Same. His recent tracks “War,” “When to Say When,” and “Chicago Freestyle” all seem to hint at an introspective and aggressive rap-heavy vibe reminiscent to fan favorites like “5 AM in Toronto” and “0-100/The Catch Up.”

J.I.D – Untitled Album

The Atlanta-born MC has had a great 2019, largely off the strength of his 2018 album DiCaprio 2 and his contributions to the label compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III alongside fellow Dreamville Records label mates, most notably J.Cole. The sky is the limit for the rapper, as he plans to drop new music as revealed at the Grammy Awards. Whether it is a joint project with veteran producer No I.D. or not remains to be seen. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of fast flows and complex rhyme schemes, J.I.D.’s upcoming work will be worth a listen.

Smino – Untitled Album

Smino has been hard at work since the release of his 2018 album NOIR. The St. Louis born rapper maintains his pace with the release of singles like “Trina” and “Reverend.” Additionally, he and fellow rappers Saba and Noname formed a trio called Ghetto Sage, with a single called “Haagen Dazs.” Smino’s features on Chance the Rapper’s The Big Day and Revenge of the Dreamers III raises the stakes for his next project as he builds his following.

Brent Faiyaz- Make It Out Alive

As previously covered in my previous article, Brent Faiyaz is part of a new wave of 1990s-esque r&b singers, with the release of his EP Fuck The World on February 7th. However, he is not done yet. As reported by Billboard, Faiyaz plans to drop his next project Make It Out Alive “as soon as possible.” Listeners may already have a taste of what to expect with the track “Been Away” off the aforementioned EP. Anyone looking for some r&b with some grit should watch out for Brent’s next moves for 2020.

Get ready for what 2020 has in store for us, whether the heavy hitters of the past decade sustain their run or a new wave of artists change the landscape as we know it.

Written By: Kristian Gonzales

New Music Friday With Mike – February 14

For this week’s “New Music Friday,” we have new releases from Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Sam Smith, and more.

Happy Friday and Valentine’s Day! We made it to the end of another week, phew. Welcome to the first “New Music Friday” where every week, I update you on what’s fresh out for music. This week we had a ton of new music drop from all of your favorite artists, so let’s dive right in.

Justin Bieber – Changes

Justin Bieber’s highly anticipated new album Changes is finally here and a great valentines day present for all. A lot of changes have happened since the singer’s previous album Purpose, which was released in 2015. He is now married to Hailey Baldwin, which has been an inspiration to the album. The singer also informed us of his battle with Lyme Disease. Justin stopped by the MTV studios and told MTV’s Sway Calloway the vibe of the album is “super R&B influenced” and features include Quavo, Post Malone, Clever, Lil Dicky, Travis Scott, and Khelani. You can stream Changes everywhere on music streaming platforms. You can also check out the tour schedule on his website to find if Justin is coming to a city near you. Good news local beliebers, Justin will be stopping in San Diego on May 26, 2020.

Justin Bieber – Intentions feat. Quavo | Music Video

Billie Eilish – “No Time To Die”

Screenshot of tweet from 007 twitter account stating that Billie Eilish will be performing "No Time To Die" as the theme song for the next 007 movie.
Twitter Announcement from @007 on Twitter announcing Billie Eilish performing “No Time To Die”

The theme song for the upcoming 007 James Bond movie is here. Billie Eilish with “No Time To Die.” Billie and brother Finneas co-write the song which was announced on the official James Bond 007 Twitter account back on January 14, 2020. Eilish, 18, is the youngest person to write and perform the 007 theme song. Other past theme song performers of the franchise include Tina Turner, Wings, Madonna, Adele, and Sam Smith. You can stream “No Time To Die” on music streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and more. The movie No Time To Die comes out on April 10, 2020.

Sam Smith – “To Die For”

This week, New Music Friday falls on Valentine’s Day and, of course, I had to throw in a song that fits perfectly for all my single friends out there. Sam Smith’s “To Die For.” Sam expressed to Rolling Stone, “…This is for all the lonely hearts out there on another Valentine’s Day.” Thank you, Sam Smith, I truly needed this one. In addition to releasing “To Die For” Sam also informed us that his third studio album is set for release on May 1, 2020. Pre-orders for the album begin February 15, 2020.

Sam Smith – To Die For | Music Video

More New Music from February 14

Other songs that dropped today include:

What new music are you listening to or have on repeat this weekend? Let me know by hitting me up on Twitter or Instagram @mikestarkca See you next week for another New Music Friday update.

Written By: Mike Stark