Up and coming R&B singer Khalid dropped his second solo work, a seven-song EP entitled Suncity on Friday, October 12th. The EP pays homage to the American (no longer) Teen’s home city of El Paso, Texas.
Known for his upbeat songs and playful backtracks, Khalid did not disappoint on Suncity. Each of the seven songs has different, contrasting elements as well as completely different sounds, but the EP still manages to come together as a whole to tell a story. This time, the story was of growing up in his hometown.
In the year-long gap between the release of his first solo album, American Teen, and this project, Khalid has been able to grow tremendously as an artist, and it shows through his new music. Within each song, he demonstrates that he has let his surroundings influence him to his benefit.
The EP opens with “9.13”, which is not a song that Khalid sings, but rather a dialogue recording of Khalid being presented the key to the city of El Paso. The title of the song refers to the date he was given the key, September 13th, 2018. By using this as the introduction to his EP, Khalid sets the tone of celebrating his youth and his hometown.
“Vertigo”, the second track off the EP opens with heavy string instrumentals, almost immediately disorienting the listener, as Khalid has not heavily utilized string instruments before. The rest of the song maintains a more natural sound, despite introducing heavier beats as the song progresses. “Vertigo” delves into the struggles Khalid has faced in his career thus far, and how despite how great he has done and the accolades he’s received, he fears that it will not remain this way. The song is a vulnerable exploration of the fears of popular musicians.
While some of the songs have content that is most topical to life as a teenager and high schooler, this is not demonstrated in “Saturday Nights.” The song mainly focuses on having a parent’s approval in a relationship, and how when you are in an invested, committed relationship, the time you spend together makes you feel like family. The song also lets Khalid showcase a different side of his music. Although he typically remains in the realm of heavy beats and more produced music, he strips “Saturday Nights” down to acoustics, and gives more of an indie vibe than we’ve ever heard from him.
Start of a new era pic.twitter.com/05rKoyVMJN
— Khalid (@thegreatkhalid) October 12, 2018
However, this high school esque vibe omitted by “Saturday Nights” can be clearly seen in the following song, “Salem’s Interlude.” The song concentrates on being confused as you grow up and being faced with decisions that don’t have simple, quick answers.
‘Salem’s Interlude’ also adds a unique break in the EP, as it includes dialogue that sounds as if it has been recorded over an answering machine. The trend of using this type of audio/media in songs has exponentially increased in recent releases: Artists such as SZA, Tyler the Creator, and Kendrick have also utilized this technique to add another layer of depth to their songs.
Moving into “Motion,” Khalid returns to a more familiar tone, similar to his first album American Teen. However, the song is undoubtedly more mellow than Khalid’s usual songs. “Motion” explores what it’s like to be falling for someone, and how difficult it is to stop these feelings. The song closes by repeating the bridge from the next song, “Better” almost as to indicate that he’s still anticipating these feelings, and what’s ahead will be better.
On the track “Better,” Khalid explores what it feels like to be in a new, somewhat unstable relationship, and the feelings that come along with it. Overall, the song takes on an upbeat tone that mimics the upbeat persona that Khalid always seems to maintain throughout concerts, meet and greets, and over social media.
Finally, the EP closes with the song “Suncity,” which features singer Empress Of, as well as multiple verses in Spanish. The song closes the EP out with the message of patience. This song was an appropriate choice for the final track, as it reminds the listeners that despite his rapid success, Khalid is only 20, and the best is yet to come for him.
Overall, the EP exposes a new side of Khalid that shows his maturation as an artist, as he moves onto singing about real life issues, his personal experiences, and using more raw vocals and instrumentals.
Listen to the EP here:
Photo: Vevo, courtesy of Croonzone