FAIRFIELD — A little love from the hometown crowd. That’s all Faris “Sonu” Nazeem wants.
That, and being everyone’s favorite musical artist.
The 21-year-old Rodriguez High School graduate just dropped his first CD, “Unpredicatable,” on Redcon-1. The 15-song CD is chock-full of mixed genres, hence the name.
“There’s old styles and new styles, that’s why it’s unpredictable,” Nazeem said.
His first song came together about age 7. It carried the melody of “O Christmas Tree” but was titled “Young Mary.” Nazeem was too shy to sing it in front of his mom. His brother put him in the closet and, with no eyes upon him, he belted out the tune.
She was so impressed, when the family was at social functions, she encouraged him to sing.
“Mom made me a performer,” Nazeem said.
In high school, he serenaded the girls on campus. They loved his voice, but not his size. Weighing 320 pounds, he was called the “fat guy who could sing,” Nazeem said.
The weight is down by 100 pounds. Muscle has also entered the picture. So have the girls.
The one who broke his heart is at the center of one of the songs.
A dream girl since high school also gets her due in one tune.
The CD was a five-year dream. Nazeem took a break for a couple of years while he was involved in a relationship. After the break-up he connected with engineer Brian “Platinum Fingers” Porter.
“I grew as an artist,” Nazeem said in praise of Porter. “He taught me a lot.”
Things began to solidify when Nazeem went to a talent show at Bliss Urban Arts Center in Vacaville. He thought he was just going to perform. Soldier Hard, a Vallejo hip-hop artist, told him he was there to compete.
“I freeze up in competition,” Nazeem said.
He didn’t this time, but it was tough. Nazeem followed a dancer who brought some of the audience members to tears, he said.
Nazeem picked up the mic and launched into “You’re What I Need.” The audience was listening. He worked the crowd.
He was happy with the judges’ decision. The dancer took first; Nazeem second.
Dance classes at Bliss were next. His comfort zone was growing. Dancing was a natural progression in his career move.
Without his dance instructors, Nazeem said he’d just be an “ordinary guy holding a mic.” Bliss owner Fae Salfiti taught him how to show emotion in song.
“She taught me to sing my heart out,” Nazeem said.
Nazeem has a host of guest artists on the CD, including Baby Bash, a Mexican-American rapper from Vallejo. The pair first met at a Cinco de Mayo party. It didn’t go as well as Nazeem had hoped. Baby Bash was in a rush and left Nazeem and his music with members of Bash’s team.
They would meet up again at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield, where Nazeem’s father, Mohammed Nazeem, is the general manager.
On Feb. 22, he will be back at Bliss Urban Arts Center for a showcase. Among the audience members will most likely be Nazeem’s longtime friend, Sergio Gonzalez. The two met in high school.
It was Gonzalez who got Nazeem out of track pants and into a nice pair of pants. Gonzalez has been there to cheer up Nazeem, too.
“When he had second thoughts, I’d tell him, ‘Man, you can do it. Come on, man,’ ” Gonzalez said.
Nazeem is looking for a manager and promoter. While his CD charted on iTunes, he feels there’s only so much he can do. Social media and word of mouth has helped launch him.
“I made a promise to myself by the end of 2014, I want to be everyone’s favorite artist,” he said. “When you set a big goal you have to push yourself harder to achieve it. If you fall off, you just have to pick yourself up. If you give up on yourself, everyone else will as well.”
He’s most often compared to Chris Brown and Sean Kingston. Those are compliments. He’s one of Kingston’s biggest fans.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.