There’s still a handful of months before 2017 comes to a close, but one of the songs that has defined the year is “Location,” Khalid’s effortless mastery of seduction in the 21st century.
The stripped-down r&b track drips through speakers with a mellow vibrato, reiterating the singer’s chill demeanor as he goes on about subtweets.
“Send me your location, let’s/Focus on communicating/Cuz I just need the time and place to come through,” Khalid echoes on the chorus, a more sophisticated version of the dreaded “u up?” text that lights up far too many cell phones every weekend around 2 a.m. His knowledge of the whole modern dating game comes off as impeccable — and it’s probably because Khalid Robinson is only 19.
“Damn, my car still smells like marijuana/My mom is gonna kill me,” he sings on “8TEEN.” Sounds about right.
Khalid rolls through the House of Blues this Sunday (August 6) in support of his debut album, aptly named American Teen. Alt-rock has been having a moment for what feels like forever at this point, but American Teen puts a face to alt-r&b, framing the typical American teenage experience in a new stylistic format. The same topics have been fleshed out a million times over on both the alternative and rap spectrums — just never together.
As the album opens with the title track, there’s almost no similarities between it and “Location,” as “American Teen” starts with chirping birds and ends with an acoustic rendition of the chorus, stuffing more poppy beats in between.
“We don’t always say what we mean/It’s the lie of an American teen,” Khalid sings — not raps — on “Amerincan Teen,” sharing the brutal truth that being young isn’t the golden age that movies paint them to be. From there, he slides into the organ-fueled “Young Dumb & Broke,” the basic three-word descriptor of any given high schooler at any given time. By the end of the album, Khalid delves into deeper and more emotional waters on “Shot Down” and “Angels.” Together, the 15 tracks of the album offer more depth and stylistic versatility than seasoned industry musicians can’t even achieve — reason #19 to stop underestimating those damn millennials.