Khalid: Suncity EP Review

Story posted October 25, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Rachel Wong

Since his debut single “Location” in 2016, Khalid Donnel Robinson, known artistically as Khalid, has already made huge waves in his career with debut album American Teen, several featured songs, as well as three headlining tours. At just twenty years old,  Khalid, who has received Grammy Award nominations for his contemporary R&B work, has returned this year with the seven-track EP Suncity. The work is an ode to his roots in El Paso, Texas, which is also nicknamed the Sun City.

The EP begins with a short re-enactment of when Khalid was awarded a key to El Paso, a straightforward message that he is always honoring his roots no matter where he ends up as an artist. Khalid has included references to his hometown in previous works as well, such as in the song, “American Teen,” where he sings about the ‘city of the 915.’ His continuation to pay respects to his starting point emphasizes how much impact that El Paso has had on Khalid not only as an artist but as a person as well.

Khalid’s strength as an artist lies in his ability to create extremely pensive moods with his music. Suncity follows this exactly, as he uses the EP as a contemplation of where he has been, where he is now, and where he sees himself going, such as in the track “Vertigo” where he sings “I was happy, I was young/I've been learning, I've been growing/But the worst is yet to come.” The work is fairly cohesive, as Khalid follows similar themes on his own fears and sense of self, especially evident in “Salem’s Interlude,” which is also a track composed of dialogue. As he has gained fame and recognition in such a short amount of time, he discusses how, although he harbors fears of failure and embarrassment, he is happy with who he has become so far due to the people he is surrounded by and the life he leads with a genuine heart.

Standout track “Suncity” offers a smooth shift in vibe from Khalid - the song features Empress Of, with faster-paced background instrumentals as well as the inclusion of Spanish lyrics. The translated lyrics allude to Khalid’s longing to return to his home, where his heart is. The song definitely suggests more pop influence on his music, straying away from his trademark touch of sadness that can be heard in much of his music so far.

One of the most striking components of Suncity is Khalid’s earnestness in his lyricism. No matter what song, whether it is about his dizzying journey in creating and sharing his music in “Vertigo” or his declaration of deep emotional connection in “Saturday Nights,” the person behind it is clear: a Khalid that listeners can mature with. This is the charm behind Suncity - the fact that it is so obvious ‘Khalid’ as a person is integrated so thoroughly into the lyrics and soft beats in every piece of the EP.

Though it has only been two years since Khalid’s entrance, what lies ahead for his music is very promising. The distinctly forlorn aesthetic that he first introduced in American Teen is exemplified in Suncity. The EP positions Khalid to go more in-depth into his sound and style, to develop his life story in his song. As for the future, listeners will be able to hear how much more pop influence will affect his music, or if he will move toward a purer R&B sound in upcoming work. Now that Khalid has offered an introspective view on his journey to this point, the work he puts out from here on out will only speak to his growth as an artist.

Rating: 7/10

 

Rachel Wong is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications. To contact her, email at ruw82@psu.edu.