The Meaning Behind “Clouded” by Brent Faiyaz and Why It’s Nihilist R&B

Brent Faiyaz’s fourth EP is called F–k the World, and though there’s not much ambiguity in that title, it’s not as vindictive as it reads.

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Faiyaz’s emotional, contemplative R&B softens the cynicism the title suggests. “Clouded” hints at slivers of hope, and though people think of the word clouded as anxious or murky, maybe clouds will drop nourishing rain over Faiyaz’s despair.

Nihilism is a dominant theme in some hip-hop and R&B circles. Drake is known for his bleak lyrics, and Faiyaz often references the Canadian rapper in his own tracks. The hedonistic turn hasn’t stopped these artists from chart success or massive streaming numbers.

Maybe it speaks to how people are more connected and paradoxically lonelier in the digital age. Forget about love; sex itself as a pleasurable act is meaningless in this wave of dark R&B.

Or perhaps it’s all just another version of the blues.  

Will They Remember Me?

“Clouded” reflects on Faiyaz’s life and his desire for fame. Self-doubt and imposter syndrome cloud his mind, and the fear of failure outweighs his frenzied longing for success.

Legacy drives some to near-psychotic levels of ambition. Leaving something behind, especially something that endures, helps assuage the anxiety of life’s brevity.

I gave it all for a fantasy
Is anybody gon’ remember me?
If I go tonight, I doubt the world’ll change
I just pray they don’t forget my name
These are game rules. I can’t lose
When it’s all said and done, will I still be cool?


Faiyaz shifts scenes between machismo and regret and counts the girls as prizes, taking and discarding, leaving them as lonely as he now feels. He brags and celebrates misogyny, then goes quiet at the party, imagining he’s drowning in a pool of bad decisions.  

Spent like (how much?)
Ten thousand (ten thousand)
Twenty thousand (twenty thousand)
Thirty thousand (thirty thousand)

He’s burning through money, and the fast success brings paranoia upon him, and Faiyaz doesn’t trust anyone around. Meanwhile, he smiles for his enemies, but the façade is crumbling under the weight of self-doubt.

I’m still on the east side smokin’ with my OG’s
’Cause they the only ones that really know me
I was f–kin’ superstars when I was nineteen
The shit we did, you won’t believe me


While his life spirals out of control, Faiyaz’s family pleads with him to slow down. Everything he worked to achieve now seems to crush him. Meanwhile, the crazed instinct for success causes him to destroy relationships, including with his family.

Your judgement get clouded when you clouded
My opposition wish I’d stop smilin’
My family wish I’d stop wildin’

He questions if he’s successful because of talent or persistence and determination. If it’s not talent, he’s a footnote as history’s long view forgets the peripheral artists regardless of how many streams or charting singles they’ve had.

Now I’m at the turn-up, lookin’ lonely
Then they wonder why I’m quiet at them house parties
’Cause everybody see me
Roll some blunts and hit her once, and now she need me

R&B Nihilist

Born in Columbia, Maryland, Faiyaz performed on GoldLink’s 2016 single “Crew” with Shy Glizzy. His solo single, “Wasting Time,” featuring Drake and The Neptunes, reached No. 49 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and the accompanying album Wasteland (2022) reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

F–k the World landed in between “Crew” and Wasteland. The EP is slow-groove R&B, and though it paints a picture of a callous Faiyaz, “Clouded” shows signs of introspection.

But his inner-searching moments don’t linger. “Clouded” moves ahead with more sex and bad behavior. It’s a brief moment inside the dark chaos of Faiyaz’s life.

It’s Getting Dark

There’s an aloofness on “Clouded,” and while meditating on his disordered life, you get the sense that he’s not yet reached the enlightened phase. Perhaps it’s all too easy and too tempting to quit.

Though “Clouded” offers a sliver of hope, F–k the World is at its core, dark wave, nihilist R&B.

However, finding the truth is the first step to fixing a broken man. Faiyaz is a consistently brilliant songwriter, and like all great songwriters, he is concerned with the truth. “Clouded” appears like a journal entry, but it sounds like improvised stream-of-consciousness writing. It’s not quite Kerouac, but Faiyaz is letting it all spill onto the recording, and like the life he presents in the song, he’s unconcerned with the consequences.

He’s not hiding his cold-heartedness and is keenly aware of the damage. It’s up in the air whether or not he even cares.

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Photo by Greg Doherty/WireImage

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