Dope Music You’ve Probably Heard Of But I Haven’t: Khalid

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I’m going to keep the Texas times rolling with this week’s artist. I know this might be the 2nd most famous musician I’ve covered after the piece I penned on Mr. Gary Clark Jr., but it’s a slow week for me for music, and I like my choice so I’m picking it. I also realize I’m probably at least five years older than my Dope Music artist’s oldest intended audience, but it’s the total package that compels me to choose him, not his ability to relate to me with his lyrics. This week’s dope music you’ve probably heard of but I haven’t is Texas’s own Khalid.

Khalid Donnell Robinson, known mononymously by his stage name, Khalid, is a 21 year old musician from El Paso, Texas. Khalid was originally born in Georgia, and moved often throughout his childhood because of his mother’s military career. In fact, he didn’t arrive in El Paso until his junior year of high school, though he still claims the Sun City as his hometown. Khalid debuted his craft in 2016 with the single “Location” and his debut album “American Teen” in 2017.

Since his debut album Khalid has enjoyed success with the duet “Love Lies,” and his latest single “Talk.” His style is distinctively groovy and rhythmic, relying heavily on 80s style synths and the smooth melodic effects of his voice. It’s the sort of music that easily spans generations as older audiences can appreciate the toned down production style while younger fans will empathize with Khalid’s lyrics chronicling the struggles of adolescence. Though his topics may be sophomoric, a term that may be accurate but is hardly fair because what does one expect a 21 year old to sing about? Mortgages?

Despite his lyrics detailing such tribulations as a romance’s parents grossly misunderstanding their own child, Khalid is musically and talent wise mature far beyond his years. His voice exudes the self confidence of a well established artist, sounding perfectly at ease soothing over traps and 808s like he’s been doing it for as long as he is old. His music production doesn’t ride the wave of trend. In fact if one were unaware of Khalid one would be hard pressed to find a decade to place his music in. I think if it weren’t for all this technology, if he had been born in a world knowledgeable of only acoustic instruments, Khalid would be right at home producing melancholy blues rhythms over a piano or a saxophone.

Like all the previous week’s choices, it’s this authenticity, this timelessness of talent, that truly makes what Khalid does dope. He’s not a click chaser born in the age of internet influence. He’s just a musician, making music in the style and niche he’s found and thrived in. When Khalid chose to make a song primarily in Spanish “Suncity“, it’s because he wants to, not because there’s a Latin crossover wave cresting in the music industry. He’s just paying homage to his hometown. Khalid’s going to be around for a long time, and if he’s already this masterful of his music at 21, I can’t wait to see what he’s giving us at 31, 41, and 51.

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