Khalid: Suncity Album review
Overall rating: 7/10
Available for streaming: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora
Khalid, contemporary artist from El Paso, TX, known for his chill, alternative R&B with a splash of pop, released his latest EP, Suncity, on October 19. Khalid shook the R&B scene with his first release, Location, in 2016 which made the Billboard top 100, and has continued to work his way into the popular music world since. His sensational debut studio album, “American Teen” was released in 2017 and became one of the top ten best selling albums that year. Khalid has become rapidly popular through his performances at music festivals, a sold-out “Location Tour”, and the appearance of his music in other venues of pop culture. Khalid’s music has been featured in hit primetime television shows, such as Grey’s Anatomy, and blockbuster movies, such as Black Panther and Love, Simon.
The album’s title, Suncity, is a tribute to Khalid’s hometown of El Paso. The album’s name is appropriate, as most of the tracks on the EP are about adolescence, home, and growing up. El Paso is often referred to as the Sun City, and it is mentioned in the first track of the album, the intro, titled 9.13. There is dialogue over a musical background in this track, and the dialogue states, “The people of El Paso, Texas proudly present the key to the city, to Khalid Donnel Robinson, forever from the city of the 915”. This “city of the 915” is mentioned also in Khalid’s song American Teen from the album American Teen. Khalid has a lot of love for his hometown and often pays tribute to it in his music, and the track 9.13 features the audio of Khalid receiving a key to the city of El Paso, Texas on September 13, 2018.
Many listeners may complain about the dialogue in two of the tracks, but true fans and avid music listeners will more than likely praise Khalid for these inserts, as they are meaningful and import depth, connection, and emotion into his songs. The insertion of dialogue is very unique and brave for Khalid, as many young artists of his standing would not be vulnerable enough to express and expose themselves in this way, for fear of being rejected by the mainstream “Top 40” audience. Khalid is true to himself and his musical vision by not playing it safe on this EP.
The songs on the album, while all great, seem to try to appeal to a wide range of listeners. From the basic R&B that the artist is well versed in, to latin flavor, to acoustic experimentation, Khalid explores a wide variety of genre blending in Suncity. However, while trying to appeal to everyone, he may be straying from the genre that listeners and music connoisseurs believed he was trying to get into as a breakout artist. With the Suncity album, Khalid seems to have incorporated less R&B, which leads to a more Top 40 sound and feel. This may work in his favor yet, as Suncity tracks most definitely have the potential to become hits with national audiences, despite this album being critiqued a bit more harshly by listeners than Khalid’s previous releases.
A key track on the album is Suncity, which features latin american singer-songwriter Empress Of. Khalid’s song with the young breakout latina concludes the album on an energetic note. Suncity includes many latin elements, including an upbeat tempo, spanish lyrics, and a flavorful feel. Khalid’s choice to include a latin- infused song on the album follows recent pop culture cues, as there are many latin- esque songs working their way up in the charts this year. Suncity is a track that will reach a wider range of listeners thanks to its incorporation of spanish lyrics, but this song is a key track primarily because it exemplifies the potential that young artist Khalid has within his artistic vision and the future of his musical career.
This album is amazing. The only reason it isn’t rated a 10/10 is its length. Khalid, couldn’t you have given us more than seven tracks? Listeners will just have to hang onto the twenty one minutes of this EP until Khalid’s next release, which will undoubtedly be another collection of hits.