Khalid’s debut album has everybody wishing they were 18 again. From start to finish, the appropriately-titled album American Teen is filled with ballads that cater perfectly to the Tinder generation. Combined with the poppy synths and drums, Khalid’s sleepy singing places him among the millennial R&B genre that has been on the rise recently with artists like Gallant, Sampha and Post Malone.
The 19-year-old singer/songwriter opens up about young love, technology and his last summer as a teenager in this 15-track album. American Teen transparently displays the emotions of a boy navigating adulthood for the first time.
Standouts of American Teen include his Billboard top-ten single “Location,” “Young, Dumb and Broke,” “8TEEN,” and “Shot Down.” But don’t stop listening there: the album tells a personal coming-of-age tale that strikes deep at the heart of all modern lovers.
Khalid’s innocence lends itself perfectly to the album. “8TEEN” is a tribute to being 18 years old and making mistakes. “Damn my car still smells like marijuana,” he sings. “My mom is going to kill me.” His admittance to living with his parents in this song may label the artist as a kid. But he makes it look cool.
It’s not all fun and games, though, for the Texan teen. “Saved” tells the melancholy story of an unfinished relationship and the temptation that comes with that person always being one phone call away. “I'll keep your number saved/ 'cause I hope one day you'll get the sense to call me/ I'm hoping that you'll say/ you're missing me the way I'm missing you.”
Since its release early last year, “Location” has garnered the most attention for Khalid. On the track, Khalid struggles with a new romance and technology getting in the way. “Send me your location/ Let’s focus on communication/ ‘cause I just need a time and place to come through.” Released in August of 2016, the song hit #9 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Song chart on January 21, 2017. An official remix of the song was recently released featuring huge names Lil’ Wayne and Kehlani. Wayne opens the remix up with a spicy verse, and Kehlani adds her own love story to the mix. “Little trips to Target turn into avant-garde shit,” she sings. “Location” gained popularity last year when Kylie Jenner played the song in the background of one of her Snapchat stories.
While American Teen is Khalid’s first full-length release, he has already established himself as an artist who belongs in the growing R&B community. A voice like his and his identity as a millennial artist means we will be waiting eagerly for his next projects with great expectations.
Ting Ting Chen