Photo of Khalid taken by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.
The name Khalid has been bubbling on blogs and music sites all throughout 2016. The 18-year-old singer-songwriter has had his song, “Location,” featured all around the web due to its crisp vocals, retro-soul and perfectly suited for the public’s earholes. We have been chasing after the El Paso, Texas crooner since the summer in hopes of introducing him to our Okayplayer audience. With a voice that is earnest, gentle and fluid, Khalid’s dulcet tone is akin to hearing a Marvin Gaye coo or a Donnell Jones riff — like butter to your earholes.
Even though the budding star has no album on the digital shelves, Khalid is definitely putting in the work. One look at his SoundCloud page and you’ll notice that songs such as “Let’s Go,” “Reasons” and “Stuck On U” standout as prime songs to become familiar with. “Reasons” specifically does since the Ducko McFli-produced song samples recent Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Tupac Shakur, and his “Do For Love” song superbly. In addition to being a singer, Khalid is an exceptionally adept and strong songwriter, as “Reasons” has a banger-of-a-hook and the melodies allow him to show off his capable voice control.
Each song serves as a testament to the growing journey that Khalid is taking on—a ride that no one wants to get off of anytime soon. Unafraid to go crazy on the beats, Khalid serves songs up like warm, catered dishes that are ready for the ear’s digestion and result in nothing but smiles and warm eardrums. This week’s First Look Friday subject might be the last one of 2016, but he will be the first of many to dominate headlines in 2017. With songs perfect for this millennium age of love, dating and affection — Khalid speaks to us about his influences, how his music helped with the traumas experienced in 2016 and what his overall message to audiophiles is.
Below, press play and listen to his latest hit,”Location,” and get familiar with this budding act from El Paso, Texas. Enjoy!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in El Paso, Texas are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Khalid: When I recorded my first song, I hooked up with a friend who played guitar and I recorded the song as a voice note on my phone. It was just one take [and] I uploaded it on SoundCloud not knowing what to expect. It got over 20,000 plays in El Paso alone. That gave me the confidence to keep writing and pushing myself to get better. So, I am forever grateful to the city of El Paso for embracing my music.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?