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Artist Of The Month: Khalid

Khalid
  – Khalid

Everything typically happens for the first time in high school. It’s the first moment behind the wheel, the first taste of freedom, and the first experience of love. Though not far removed from those days, 19-year- old El Paso, TX singer and songwriter Khalid revisits this seminal time on his full-length debut album, American Teen [Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records]. It reflects the spirit of classics such as The Breakfast Club and 90210 through a kaleidoscope of glitch-y soul-driven cinematic 21st century pop and his transient upbringing in a military family.

“From beginning to end, it’s the story of your average teenager going through a typical day in high school,” he explains. “In this day and age, young people face a lot of hardships, whether they’re mental problems, relationship problems, or problems with simply facing reality. I wanted to address that in a language someone younger than me can relate to, but that can also translate to somebody a bit older. High school was the same situation every day, but with a slightly different story.”

On the eve of his own graduation, Khalid created a bona fide hit in the form of the album’s breakout single “Location.” It generated over 26.5 million Spotify streams and 4 million YouTube views, received acclaim from Nylon, Pigeons & Planes, Earmilk, DJ Booth, and more, and figured prominently in Snapchat stories from Kylie Jenner, P. Diddy, and Rita Ora. As “Location” became a 21st century anthem, he landed a major label deal with Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records.

Now, the album paints a modern picture of growing up in the age of Uber and Instagram. With its dreamy production and shimmering synths, the title track sums up the central theme.

“It’s my own homecoming pre-graduation song,” he says. “It’s all about being an American teen. You get a visual of seeing your friends passed out in an Uber ride. You’re never going to experience your senior year of high school more than once—at least you shouldn’t,” he laughs.

Elsewhere, the first song he ever wrote, “Saved,” pairs a guitar buzz with a simmering vocal performance, while “Young Dumb & Broke” encourages embracing that youthful freedom in the face of suburban malaise. “Hopeless” represents his “musical interpretation of the color blue,” and “Coaster” transfixes with raw confessional emotion. A shuffle of handclaps and piano ignites “Let’s Go,” as he croons, “This is the start of something great. We might be a little late, but at least we’re on our way.”

“This is the post-graduation track,” he explains. “I never imagined I’d be where I am. I thought I would become a music teacher. I couldn’t even dream I’d be an artist. It’s got this sense of manifestation, which I’m a strong believer in.”

 

Khalid 

“Location”

From:  American Teen 

Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records

Khalid 

“Young Dumb And Broke”

From:  American Teen 

Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records