R&B singer Khalid has recorded about a dozen legitimate hit songs. He’s sold millions of albums. Plus, he has billions of plays on streaming apps. He plays to huge crowds. Madison Square Garden. MGM Grand Garden. He’s currently on a stadium tour with Ed Sheeran.
Khalid’s breakthrough single was called Location. It was one of the first songs he ever wrote. He was 18 when it dropped. People thought he was easily 10 years older. There’s a richness to his voice, a kind of grace, too. He sings like a person who’s seen some stuff. Khalid doesn’t really record outright dance tracks, but he doesn’t have a lot of ballads, either. His songs are steady. They’re almost always plainly spoken.
His debut album American Teen was a sincere look at what he believes it’s like to be a young person nowadays. Songs like Young Dumb & Broke and Another Sad Love Song convey emotions most teenagers have, but his songwriting shines when he’s specific and intimate. In 8Teen, he’s concerned his mom is going to kill him because his car smells like weed. You know teenager stuff.
When we spoke in 2019 he had just released Free Spirit. Khalid told us about the weird, amazing world of being super famous. We also talked about his childhood – he was raised in and around several different army bases. Plus, we know Khalid can sing, but can he rap? We’ll get him to freestyle some bars. You don’t want to miss it!
A version of this interview was released in April of 2019.
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Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
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