In the first month of the long-awaited 2021 year, Brent Faiyaz surprised us with a new single entitled “Gravity,” a collaboration with Tyler, The Creator and DJ Dahi. Set to a groovy instrumental, composed of heavy drums, beautiful vocal harmonies, and a repeated banjo-esque line that sounds like a skipping record, Brent Faiyaz explains all that he would do for his girl, except stay down for her. This seems to be in rejection to his 2017 track “Stay Down” off of Sonder Son, where the hook reads “Call me, I’ll be right away/Tell me if you gonna stay down/I’ll be waitin’ night and day/But only if you wanna stay down.” Nearly 4 years have passed, and the lyrics on “Gravity” show how Brent would now rather please women with his glorious wealth instead of showing he is loyal to them through consistency and trust. His newest single “Show U Off,” which dropped nearly two months later, continues that same meditation on how he treats women; except this time, Brent takes a full 180 spin on his previous toxic statements made in “Gravity” to show that his loyalty and love need not be in question.
The track begins with a remarkably upbeat groove, something that is unusual for Brent Faiyaz considering his past projects. The use of steel guitars, keyboard arpeggios, and low-fi static creates a smooth, atmospheric beat for the first 16 measures, before a string crescendo is added to introduce the first verse. This verse immediately introduces the song’s main thematic material, which is all about the celebration of women in our lives. Faiyaz released a music video to go along with the song of black women of all shades and colors in candid moments doing miscellaneous things like walking on train tracks or sitting in chairs staring mysteriously into the camera. It pairs really nicely with the lyrics in the first verse, which read things like “It’s hard to picture life being in your shoes” and “Nobody understands all that you been through.” He also sings “He said he was in love, but wasn’t on his job,” which is a juxtaposition to his own feelings towards women on the previous single “Gravity.” Ultimately, it shows Brent’s willingness to change and appreciation for all the women that he is blessed to have in his life, which range from his own mother to the neighborhood girls who he’s watched grow up playing before his very eyes. Instrumentally, the rest of the verse incorporates some silky, stacked harmonies by Brent, which are increased tenfold by the chorus. Here, Brent seems to take a break from the dreary lyrics that depict the trials and tribulations that black women face to offer his own support and love. He sings “I don’t wanna keep you down (Don’t wanna keep you down””/A n**** wanna raise you up (Wanna raise you up),” proving his maturity in wanting to empower women.
The second verse continues that same atmospheric instrumental for Brent Faiyaz to croon over, asking questions like “Who’s gonna call you “baby” and never make you feel small?” and Who’s gonna love you crazy?” Brent again offers his unconditional love by singing “you’re worth it” and “you deserve it.” He also adds in some low baritone whispers where he says “Fuck’ em if they don’t see” before singing “You’re black and perfect.” This lyric specifically could be in relation to many of the typical problems facing black women in society today, from single motherhood to no-good men and discrimination. Black women have always had a tough road in fighting for equality, and in many places, are still missing out on opportunities. Brent Faiyaz takes a stand in a meditative piece to show black women that they are praised, appreciated, and loved. The chorus hits again and the instrumental still hasn’t changed. While it seems to drone for a little too long at this point, it is nice to see a young artist like Brent Faiyaz show patience in breaking the ambience.
Another string crescendo is added before the bridge, where the spacious mood is finally broken by heavy snares and bass drums and even denser harmonies that make for a very climatic moment in “Show U Off.” Here, Brent explains how he just wants to show and give them what the world won’t, which is appreciation and love. The beat is maintained through the rest of the final chorus for Brent to again highlight the importance of showing these women off. “Show U Off” isn’t the most lyrically dense or instrumentally complex piece that he has released, but is a welcomed break from his consistently toxic persona. This could foreshadow a new stage in Brent’s life, where he breaks from heartbreaking and pernicious lyricism and focuses on songs that encourage people to be amazing in their own beautiful ways.