Khalid - “Scenic Drive (The Tape)” Review
Khalid has been known for his lowkey sound since his debut album in 2017. His newest release, “Scenic Drive (The Tape),” is his first mixtape and comes as a predecessor to his upcoming album, “Everything Is Changing,” that will be released in 2022.
The purpose of an artist releasing a mixtape rather than an album deals with the structure and overall production of the songs. Mixtapes are more free flowing and build up hype to an album release, however, “Scenic Drive (The Tape)” falls short of that feat.
Consisting of nine songs, one of which is just over a minute long, Khalid fails to add anything new to his discography and keeps his focus on basic beats and slow tempos.
Opening with “Intro” featuring Alicia Keys, Khalid seems to start strong with a clever way to incorporate his mixtape theme.
While this is not an actual song, the track opens with a car starting and the sound of a radio turning on. Static can be heard as the dial is turned, stopping on stations playing clips of his radio hits like “Location” and “Talk,” but eventually lands on Keys acting as a radio host to introduce the album. The remaining time is filled with vocalizations, which foreshadows its eventual overuse at the hands of Khalid.
The following two songs, “Present” and “Backseat,” are the only tracks on the mixtape that do not contain a feature.
“Present” was released as a single in late October and found itself going against the grain. Having a strong beat, the song, while containing surface level lyrics, allows Khalid to experiment outside of his usual chill R&B sound.
Unfortunately, “Backseat” returns listeners back to his regular discography, but somehow makes it worse. The continuous basic beat, slow tempo, and a mumbled stream of lyrics about a complicated relationship, makes the song incredibly boring and hard to get through.
Following the disappointment of the second track, 6LACK and Lucky Daye provide a slight redemption with their features in “Retrograde.” Introduced with harmonies and a slightly quicker pace than “Backseat,” Khalid is quickly outshined by his companions.
Lucky Daye is the star of the track, taking control with his raspy vocals and channeling his confidence through his verse, while 6LACK’s verse allows for a break from Khalid’s airy sound. However, his voice does not compliment the vibe of the song and he too falls to the commanding presence of Daye.
“Brand New,” featuring Quinn, “Voicemail,” featuring Kiana Ledé, and “Open,” featuring Majid Jordan, all prove to be the more duet focused tracks. Slow paced with forgettable beats, the harmonizing and juxtaposition between Khalid and each feature allow for an interesting sound not yet heard on the mixtape. “Voicemail” and “Open” go a step further by incorporating finger snaps or guitar strumming, however, it is not enough to separate them from his overpowering dull sound.
Despite the multiple flops, Khalid is able to create some diversity in his work with two of his tracks.
“All I Feel Is Rain,” featuring JID, compliments Khalid’s vocals, as well as the beat, even with the slow introduction. “All I Feel Is Rain” changes up the vibe by having JID produce a real rap verse, disrupting the previous monotonous sound and allowing for the song to transform and end with a techno finish, adding character to the mixtape.
The final, and best track, “Scenic Drive,” featuring Ari Lennox and Smino did not come without its own struggles. Starting off weak with a beat that could have been made in Garageband, Khalid cuts the sound off during certain verses allowing the vocals to be the center of attention to create a cool stop and go effect.
Ari Lennox does not prove to be necessary on this track. Her voice does not melt into Khalid’s like Majid Jordan does, nor does it take the sound in a new direction like Kiana Ledé. On the other hand, Smino does just that.
His quick paced rap starts in the background before being brought into the forefront, carrying the rest of the song until it’s end with the sound of a radio being turned off.
Khalid’s release of “Scenic Drive (The Tape)” was not able to impress. He seems to stick to his discography tightly and rely on feature artists to add character to his songs. Hopefully he was able to rid himself of his mediocrity with this mixtape and will produce a comeback with “Everything Is Changing.”
Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Scenic Drive”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Backseat”
Megan Kelby is a second-year majoring in journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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