Review: Khalid’s Free Spirit
April 9, 2019
Ask any SHS student about Khalid, and they’ll excitedly tell you about their favorite hits from the Grammy-nominated 21-year-old and how they relate to “Young Dumb & Broke” on a deeper level.
I’ve been a Khalid fanatic ever since the singer-songwriter released “Would You” and “Stuck on U” in 2016 on SoundCloud, a music platform where independent artists can upload and share their music to the masses, and I have never been disappointed with his releases—Free Spirit is no exception. Khalid has already worked with countless teen favorites, including Billie Eilish, Halsey, Logic, Shawn Mendes, and Marshmello, in a mere three years since his entry to the music industry via SoundCloud.
Free Spirit, Khalid’s second studio album after American Teen, was finally released on April 5th as a follow-up to Suncity, an EP released in 2018. Khalid also announced a one-day viewing on April 3rd for a short film he created with director Emil Nava to accompany the album. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the film, but I’m hoping Khalid will produce another short film with his next album.)
The album itself consists of 16 tracks, along with the bonus track “Saturday Night,” which was part of the Suncity album. Khalid collaborated with John Mayer for “Outta My Head” and SAFE for “Don’t Pretend,” in which the duo addresses insecurities resulting from unrequited love. Khalid had pre-released “My Bad,” Talk,” “Saturday Nights,” “Self,” and the widely-known anthem “Better,” which currently holds the 16th spot of Billboard’s Hot 100.
Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper are among Khalid’s list of inspirations, and his “Intro” was specifically Frank Ocean-esque, with its calming, pleasing vocals and purposeful lyrics. His vocals are enhanced with the catchy, fresh rhythms and the not too overpowering guitar instrumentals.
The songs in Free Spirit evoke true emotion and allow listeners to relate to Khalid’s experiences dealing with unfamiliar environments. The main themes in Free Spirit convey a sense of maturity that was lacking in American Teen, which was released when Khalid was 19-years-old and more naïve. In “My Bad,” Khalid acknowledges the loneliness and confinement caused by fame and wealth. In “Alive,” he focuses on the struggles associated with depression and the consequences of mistakes, a theme that is both relevant and akin to the one presented in his previous hit named “1-800-273-8255,” the number for the suicide hotline. Khalid sings about his hundreds of obligations amidst a sea of unsupportive, deceitful friends in “Hundred,” while he tackles the balance of priorities in “Paradise.” The overall combination of meaningful, honest lyrics and radio-palatable beats renders the album an almost guaranteed chart-topper.
Although it may have had a rather quiet release, Free Spirit is an extremely worthwhile listen, with each track being equally as impressive as the former. The lyrical R&B genius from El Paso, Texas helps you self-reflect and be your own “free spirit.” Khalid is currently prepping for his first arena tour, the Free Spirit World Tour, which spans two months and includes a concert in Madison Square Garden on July 31st. Meanwhile, add some songs (or simply the whole album) to your Spotify playlist, sit back, and enter “Paradise.”