Khalid experiments with Suncity

Kavya Desikan, Editor

To say Khalid Robinson (better known as Khalid) had a successful debut in 2017 is an understatement. In 2017, not only did Khalid release his double-platinum debut album titled American Teen, but he also received multiple Grammy nominations and collaborated with the biggest names in music right now such as Logic, SZA, and Post Malone.

Successful debut artists like Khalid often suffer an identity crisis of sorts after releasing a wildly popular project. After all, when listeners grow attached to a singer’s style and genre, they often are reluctant to accept any change in style the artist makes.

Khalid, however, did not allow himself to become tied to the indie pop/R&B sound of American Teen on his new 7-track EP Suncity. Rather, he used the EP as a means to test out new sounds and genres on his fanbase.

The EP is by no means cohesive, but that is not necessarily a weakness on this album. It allows for Khalid to experiment with new styles and genres without the commitment to crafting a whole album around it. It provides a taste of what is yet to come.

And if this is what is yet to come, then I confidently say that I love it.

Paired with the high production quality of the simple beats and instrumentals,  Khalid’s voice truly shines on this project. Khalid tried a multitude of genres on this EP from true indie pop to Latin pop, and to be honest — he landed all of them.

‘Vertigo’ was Khalid’s dabble into chamber pop, marked by its orchestral elements and layered vocals. The song is trance-like, with the singer’s voice meshing perfectly with the violin-infused instrumental. It largely differed from the pure R&B sound of ‘Better,’ which had the classic markings of lovesick lyrics and the catchy hook of “Nothing feels better than this.”

Perhaps the most out-of-the-box song on the EP is ‘Suncity,’ which features Empress Of. The two R&B singers collaborated to put Khalid’s own twist on the trend of Latin pop which is sweeping the charts. The song is simple, with a basic chorus in Spanish allowing for the vocals of both Empress Of and Khalid to shine. The song has the perfect vibe- one you can dance to, but also one you can just listen to on a drive or when you’re studying.

Suncity is the perfect kind of experimental EP. Listeners get to enjoy Khalid’s signature chill vibe while also getting a taste of new sounds and genres. Suncity is an experience; it is a journey listeners get to take with Khalid, as he navigates genres alien to him to see what he can put his own twist on.

I think that Suncity is a good taste of what is to come, and I think it eases his fans into a new era which will come with his next full-length album.

I only have a few qualms with the album, including the fact that 2 out of the 7 tracks are an intro and interlude, something which would be better utilized in a full-length and more cohesive project. I also believe that there should have been a slight bit more focus on enunciation in the album, as sometimes lyrics and instrumentals just blend in too much, but that is a criticism I have with most indie-influenced albums.

Despite the criticism, I give the EP a solid 3.5/5 stars.

The album features great hits which can stand alone well like ‘Better’ and ‘Suncity’, and for those who enjoyed this album, I would of course recommend Khalid’s debut album American Teen. For those who prefer a more chill, R&B heavy sound, I would recommend Daniel Caesar’s Freudian.