Khalid Is Much More Than An American Teen

New Noise is a regular feature dedicated to spotlighting artists on the rise. Discover more New Noise artists that are making sweet tuneage here. This edition, we introduce pop prodigy, Khalid.

Name: Khalid Robinson

Location: El Paso, Texas

Food for your earbuds: American Teen

For people who rate: 6LACK, Sampha, Lorde

Listening to Khalid is like watching a 90s teen movie with your high school crush. Radiating from this 19 year old’s music is an aura of nostalgia that any group can vibe with. His soulful voice and musical influences mingle harmoniously to create tracks that are emotional, new and exciting.

Khalid’s ascent to stardom is much like a movie. In 2015, with no real desire to become an artist, he discovered his musical talent. Speaking on the turn of events during a sit-down with Boi-1da Khalid reveals “My first song that I’ve ever written was actually just a really personal voice note that I had made to get a sense of closure to get over a past relationship that I had when I lived in New York.” It was his friends that complimented his writing and singing, that inspired him to make ‘Saved’.

Motivated by demands from his high school classmates in El Pasco, Texas who still wanted to hear more of his sultry pop music, Khalid released ‘Location’ right before prom. The song would change his life’s trajectory forever.

Already well received when it was released, ‘Location’ was given an even bigger boost when reality TV star, Kylie Jenner lip-synced to it on her Snapchat. According to Genius, the plays that day shot up by 2,690 percent and effectively turned it into a summer smash. “The growth from that song from when I first made it literally right before my senior prom… getting played on Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat on graduation day and then being number one on the apple music r&b charts right now y’know? It’s like crazy insane, and that song has done so much for me, and if I didn’t record that song I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Khalid explained to Complex .

Kahlid’s standalone album ‘American Teen’ neatly describes the generation he’s representing. With songs like ‘Young Dumb and Broke’ and ‘Hopeless’ it’s easy to see the perspective he’s coming from. “The album is a compilation of my youth,” the 19 year old told Entertainment Weekly. “The mistakes I’ve made, the heartbreaks I went through, the love that I got, and all the love that I lost.”

But for Khalid it’s not all about naïve and wistful young love. Khalid is eager to bring attention the new ways we connect, or in a lot of cases, disconnect. “Falling in love in high school and falling out of love – it’s very digital,” he explained to RollingStone. “I’ve had breakups where they’ve called me to tell me we were done, and I’ve gotten a lot of text messages from an old girlfriend letting me know how she felt about me after we had ended everything.”

For someone that’s being lauded as “The Voice of the Youth”, many would agree that Khalid’s musical direction doesn’t sound like something the younger generation would embrace, but with influences spanning American folk to Beyoncé, Frank Ocean and Sia, you can see how Khalid has cultivated his distinctive sound and faithful fanbase.

Words by Dale St. Marthe