Khalid’s soulful voice and clever lyricism takes the iconic sound of R&B to new heights. This 19 year old has been making music since 2015, and has already been featured on Billboard’s top 10 R&B artists lists; his title as “iTunes Artist of the Week” is more than well deserved. It’s admirable, seeing someone my age go out and create his own artistic style. I can barely get up to go to classes, I can’t imagine being that motivated to do anything. I first discovered Khalid through Spotify and I was immediately captivated. I was driving home and I had been stuck in traffic for almost an hour. By the end, I wasn’t even upset about the drive; I stayed in the car to listen to all his hits one more time.
His feel-good vibe, worthy melodies, and simple beats make me feel nostalgic for the classic 90’s R&B sound more than ever. His music speaks to the complexities of finding love in a digital age while challenging the notion that social media is the only way young people can connect. Khalid is very aestheticized as well. There are aspects of Khalid’s music remind me a lot of ‘Blonde’ era Frank Ocean, yet comparing him to Frank Ocean does not give his unique sound the credit it deserves. Khalid looks introspective in a yellow sweater and jeans in El Paso and his 50s-esque vibe which fits well into to his characteristic look as a modern American youth. Khalid wears a lot of denim and plain white tee shirts, just like most people our age. His most recent video featured a lot of teens hanging out and skateboarding after dark. He’s a young adult who makes music for other young people. He doesn’t use the material he publishes to fabricate some kind of musical persona.
“Shot Down” the first single released off his upcoming album American Teen, is calming, like holding hands with a significant other. His use of layering keeps even the most tranquil of his singles dynamic and interesting. “But I hold on to the poems I would write you / Happy seventeen, I saw us two and you saw three / I guess our lines are structured like a haiku” is especially witty, and who isn’t a sucker for wordplay? “Coaster” another one of his popular singles is ethereal. The mellow piano and his soothing voice come together to create a beautiful harmony. “Saved” is my favorite out of his several released singles. Everyone can relate to the sentimentality and to the hope in saving ex’s phone number.
“Location” is his most well known single, especially for the line: “I don’t wanna fall in love off of subtweets so / Let’s get personal.” Twitter and other social media apps make it so easy to interact with others without actually having to talk to them. It’s hard not to sympathize with his desire to communicate with others honestly and in person, even if that is more difficult.
From his music down to his clothing, Khalid stays true to himself. Finding an artist that constantly feels genuine is rare.
American Teen will be released on March 3, 2017. Pre-order the album now!