Brent Faiyaz on the Success of 'Sonder Son,' His Love for Lauryn Hill & Why He Plans to Stay Independent 'Forever'

For Brent Faiyaz, when it comes to stroking the pen, he's a star student. Though the Maryland upstart never valued the importance of the school system growing up, he was always adept at voicing his heartaches and somber realities with his pen and pad. His visceral takes on love and ambition are what allowed his 2017 project, Sonder Son, to win the hearts of R&B purists. With a buttery voice and indelible lyrics to match, Faiyaz had a memorable 2017.

Aside from the success of his project Sonder Son, Faiyaz became a Grammy-nominated artist after he, GoldLink and Shy Glizzy doled out an inescapable record in "Crew" last year. The DMV natives rattled the cages of the music industry with their unmatched chemistry and grit. Though the record failed to nab a Grammy for best rap/sung collaboration in January, Faiyaz was able to add another title to his résumé: platinum-selling artist. The record peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 and provided all three artists the first plaque of their careers.

After providing listeners a snapshot of his life on Sonder Son, Faiyaz embarked on his first headlining jaunt titled the Sonder Son Tour last month. With close to half of the tour wrapped up, Faiyaz plans to lock back in the studio and unleash more earworms for his eager devotees. Billboard spoke to the singer about the success of Sonder Son, the meaning of his "Sonder" tattoo, his love for Lauryn Hill, being a Grammy-nominated artist, and more.

Take me back to the moment you fell in love with music.
I’d like to say it was always there. If I could think of like a particular moment, I think it was when I got my first play keyboard when I was a little kid. I got a toy keyboard when I was around like five or six. I would be playing it, and typically kids be on that jawn for like five seconds and then go do some other shit, but I would just stick on it and mess with stuff and press the buttons and the different instruments and just do that all day.

On Sonder Son, the first track “Home,” there was a woman in the background playing your mom and she was talking about you being a troubled kid growing up. How did music grow to be an escape for you?

Music to me is an outlet where I can just let out feelings that wouldn’t be appropriate to let out on some everyday shit. Being a man, especially a Black man, I’m not about to walk around with my emotions on my sleeve all day, talking ‘bout my heart -- it’s just too much shit. I got too much stuff to do. Music is my one opportunity to let out how I’m feeling when I’m not talking to a chick or my mom, you know what I mean? It’s just venting.

Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
It was probably a rap. I don’t even remember the first one. It was some bad ones [laughs].

Ultimately, what made you transition from rapping to singing?
Really, [my manager] Ty. I was doing both, on my Lauryn Hill shit, I guess. There’s so many rappers out. I remember sending music around, sending emails all day everyday for damn near two years. Nobody was really giving me the response I wanted. The thing is, because it’s so many rappers, if I’m not referred by somebody, I don’t even wanna listen. Versus singing, somebody can press play, and like three seconds in you might be somebody’s favorite singer off of one song. You don’t gotta hear a whole catalog. It was a no brainer.

Even looking at it now, do you feel like you’re a better singer than you are a rapper?
I still got bars, I just use ‘em differently. I’d say I’m a better singer than I am a rapper at this point because I’ve been sharpening my sword. If I really hopped back into rapping, I’d f--- these n---as up.

Continue reading this story at Billboard.

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Wendy Williams Reportedly Hires New Manager After Firing Estranged Husband

Wendy Williams hired a new team members after splitting from her estranged husband, Kevin Hunter, earlier in the month and firing him as her manager.

Veteran producer Bernie Young has signed on as Williams’ manager and executive producer of The Wendy Williams Show, Page Six reports. Young replaces Williams’ estranged husband who was reportedly booted as executive producer of the show after she served him with divorce papers.

Young worked as co-executive producer of the Rosie O’Donnell Show from 1996 until 2002, and Martha Stewarts’s talk show, Martha, from 2005 until 2012.

Williams split from Hunter amid rumors that he had been cheating on her for several years with a woman named, Sharina Hudson. Hunter and Hudson allegedly welcomed a child together late last month. Williams supposedly gave Hunter only 48 hours to move out, and cut off his funds.

Following news of the split, Hunter released a statement apologizing to Williams. “I am not proud of my recent actions and take full accountability and apologize to my wife, my family and her amazing fans,” he said. “I am going through a time of self-reflection and am trying to right some wrongs.”

Aside from a few jokes and flirty comments, Williams hasn’t said much about the split from Hunter. The 54-year-old daytime talk show host, who has battled drug addiction, announced that she was moving out of the sober house that she had been living in following a reported relapse.


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California Approves Bill Banning Racial Discrimination Based On Hairstyles

California is set to become the latest state to ban racial discrimination based on hairstyles. Senate Bill 188, also known as The Crown Act, was introduced by state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) in January and unanimously approved in a 37-0 vote Monday (April 22).

The bill outlines the proximity between race and hair and how the history of the U.S. has been “riddled with laws and societal norms” that equate  “blackness’” which includes physical traits such as “dark skin, kinky and curly hair” with inferiority, and therefore subjecting black people to “separate and unequal treatment.”

“This idea also permeated societal understanding of professionalism,” Morgan states in the bill. “Professionalism was, and still is, closely linked to European features and mannerisms, which entails that those who do not naturally fall into Eurocentric norms must alter their appearances, sometimes drastically and permanently, in order to be deemed professional.

“Despite the great strides American society and laws have made to reverse the racist ideology that Black traits are inferior, hair remains a rampant source of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences, especially for Black individuals,” Morgan continues.

Furthermore, dress codes and grooming policies prohibiting “natural hair” have a “disparate impact on Black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group.”

The 1964 Civil Rights Act banning racial discrimination extends to afros as well, but doesn’t include other hairstyles. As pointed out in SB 188, “courts do not understand that afros are not the only natural presentation of Black hair. Black hair can also be naturally presented in braids, twists, and locks.”

Although the bill has yet to be signed into law, the state isn't alone in making moves to end the racist bias against natural hair. In February, New York City passed a similar bill in February imposing a $250,000 penalty for hair discrimination.

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Report: Kanye West Wants To Start His Own Church

It appears Kanye West's Coachella Sunday Service show really inspired him. The rapper is reportedly looking to expand on his gospel segment by starting his own church.

According to a new report from People, Kanye is seriously considering starting his own church where he can perform new music and promote spirituality on his terms. "He has talked about starting his own church, and what exactly that would be," a source told People. "It wouldn’t be the traditional, 3-hymns-and-a-sermon thing. Instead, it would be a way to point people to Jesus through the arts and through a community of people who love and care for each other. He also wants his kids to be raised in faith, and the best way for him to do that is to live out his faith."

It doesn't stop there. Kanye is also looking to help those in need. "Say what you want about Kanye, but he really does want to help people who need support," the insider continued. "He understands brokenness and the need for healing, probably more than most people. He believes in the healing powers of music, but also believes that God can step in and heal people’s brokenness and their issues."

Kanye West kicked off his Sunday Service performance on Easter Sunday (April 21) with a number of his celebrity friends, including Chance the Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign, and Teyana Taylor. DMX also delivered a moving prayer. "He is extremely passionate about his faith and wants to share it more regularly with people,” the source added. "He spends a lot of time studying and praying, and wants to share his journey."

Of course, Kanye's plans are not official at this time, but it would be interesting to see what a church headed by Ye would look like.

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