First, for those who don’t know of the 18-year-old, Khalid is from the dusty West Texas city of El Paso, settling there after stints in Germany and Upstate New York. As you can guess by now, Khalid (whose full name Khalid Robinson) is an Army brat with a mother who has had a career in music.
His rise to stardom actually began last year, when his debut single, “Location,” reached number two on Billboard’s Twitter Emerging Artists charts in July. That chart position was the beginning of a loving relationship between “Location” and Billboard as the single garnered more praise and moved over to the R&B/Hip-Hop charts, where it made an appearance in the Top 10 in January of this year.
The booming success of the slow-drawn “Location.” which included a sold-out 21-city tour at the beginning of the year, amped up Khalid’s debut LP, which dropped on store shelves and online music stores on Mar. 3.
Called American Teen, the central premise of the album was to tell the tale of teenage life and relationships in the age of social media and Facetime. The album’s deliberate withdrawal is what makes American Teen a fascinating LP, but the sound also had its drawback in spots.
At times, the album was a little too disengaged, which can lead the listener to skip over some of the tracks. It was those moments that kept American Teen from the lofty perch of being an essential album.
Instead, it’s a really, really good album that was a little too downbeat in spots. Granted, this was (probably) what Khalid was going for, as social media and technology had sucked out the emotion in modern relationships, especially teenage love; but, as mentioned earlier, it could also lead to disinterest, which is the unintended consequence of a style like this.
Nevertheless, American Teen is a good jump off point for Khalid to achieve superstardom. His sophomore LP will tell if he is indeed heading there or not, but until that day comes, you can just pop on this record and revel in the malaise of what it is to be a teen in the modern world through this talented teenager’s eyes.