Khalid – Suncity (EP)

Khalid is young, no longer broke, and is currently a force to be reckoned with. At only 20 years old, he’s already released a 2x platinum album as well as multiple platinum singles and received five Grammy nominations. Not bad for a brand new act in a genre that is supposedly dying out. He’s been embraced by the masses as well as the mainstream music media, but the hip-hop media has yet to anoint him as the golden boy next in line in the vein of a Frank Ocean or The Weeknd. I don’t know why this is, but I do know that his music is objectively outstanding. American Teen was an impressive debut album regardless of genre or sales, and the singles that he’s put out this year are on par with any new R&B act that has come out in the last few years. The hip-hop media may not be entirely on board with him yet, but he’s done more than enough in his first five minutes of fame for me to take him seriously. But first, let’s see what’s really REALLY good with his second major label release.

Scouting Report

  • Khalid is a good (but not great) singer. He has a two-octave vocal range and is conclusively known as a baritoner amongst the vocalist community, and likes to use multiple vocal tracks on his songs for added emphasis
  • His real strength lies in his songwriting, very gifted at writing hooks as well as verses and bridges
  • Merges into the pop lane almost as frequently as he rides the R&B wave and is almost equally as adept there, shows his versatility as an artist
  • Best songs released before Suncity (EP): Location,” “Another Sad Love Song,” “Love Lies (feat. Normani)“, “OTW (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & 6LACK)
  • Best project released before Suncity (EP): American Teen

Track-by-Track

  1. 9.13: Skit backed by wavy backing vocals from Khalid that is a recording of the mayor of his hometown of El Paso, TX giving him the key to the city. 4/5
  2. Vertigo: Slow, airy instrumental interpolates Coldplay hit Viva la Vida. Very smooth track where Khalid documents struggles. Great songwriting showcased here as usual. 4/5
  3. Saturday Nights: Simpler guitar-laden beat, has a pop feel to it. Refers to a girl that has family problems and a shitty job, but he assures her he cares for her. 4/5
  4. Salem’s Interlude: Skit featuring a female narrator that seemingly outlines Khalid’s insecurities and his future. N/A
  5. Motion: Synth driven instrumental, Khalid lays vocals at a higher octave than usual. He sings about being in a euphoric state of constant motion. Outro leads into the next track. 3.5/5
  6. Better: Upbeat instrumental. Another example of Khalid’s excellent songwriting skills, amazing hook and rhythm on the verses. Awesome vocoder effect on the outro too. 4.5/5
  7. Suncity (feat. Empress Of): Latin-influenced track paying homage to El Paso as a border city. Khalid sings in both English and Spanish, hopping on the Latin wave. 3.5/5

Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, Khalid does not disappoint on this extended play. He gives us what he’s become famous for and plays to his strengths as a songwriter. He doesn’t overaccentuate himself when it comes to his own vocals and continues to use lots of vocal effects and multiple tracks, but it never feels like he overdoes it. The tracklist says that it’s seven songs long, but because two of them are essentially skits, it’s really only a five-song offering from the El Paso native. Perfect length for an EP, not too much or too little. Even though he hasn’t really changed his creative approach since his last project, I can’t say I’m complaining; if it ain’t broke (anymore) don’t fix it. Despite what the streaming era seems to have gotten many artists to think, quality > quantity.

FINAL SCORE: 80/100

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