Khalid has never followed anything by the book, instead he’s followed his emotions and heart; this is why I believe he is the most satisfying R&B artist to listen to today. With the release of “Free Spirit,” the El Paso singer/songwriter looks to continue his maturation process as an artist, doing everything he can to reach his peak without forgetting where he came from.
HONORABLE MENTION. TWENTY ONE “Twenty One” serves as yet another example that Khalid can have a solid career as a pop crooner. “Twenty One” features a vibrant instrumental that boasts both summery and coming-of-age vibes. Over this instrumental, Khalid sings nimbly about the ups and downs that comes with falling in love with someone while still trying to figure out your own-self. Personally, I think Khalid’s words on this song are powerful, but not gravely; honest, but not all the way blunt. At this point of my life, I rather be 31 then 21…
5. SATURDAY NIGHTS
“Saturday Night” is a very sweet track to end “Free Spirit” with.
“Saturday Night” fits its title perfectly. It gives off this laid-back feel on the instrumental, reminding me of the vibes that you would get if you were hanging out at the pier when the sun was coming down. As for Khalid, he gets a chance to talk about connecting with his woman more than her parents does on the track, regurgitating each and every one of her current problems back to her. Personally, I love how the Texas born singer takes his time laying down his every word on this song, inserting infectious melodies and very impressive harmonizing into the fray, too.
4. MY BAD
Khalid will have you under his spell in “My Bad.”
“My Bad” is powered by this bass boomin’/guitar-heavy instrumental that reminds me of some old school R&B s**t from back in the day. Over this instrumental, Khalid says goodbye to his once-upon-a-time lover, smoothly crooning about his intentions of putting his phone on silent and sleeping with the rats in the basement of his house to cope with the break-up (OK, maybe not that second part). I love this song for its energetic, yet somber feel, but especially for its old school nature.
3. BAD LUCK
“Bad Luck” has an energy attached to it that is a somber, yet lively. How were you able to achieve this sound, Khalid?
“Bad Luck” is clearly a hit. I love the colorful vibes attached to it, in addition to the way Khalid lets his feelings of loneliness, confusion and fragility manifest itself on it. While you might get conflicted on whether you should tap your feet or hide under some blankets while you listen to it, do your best not to judge the person that does the opposite of your choice.
“Talk” tells me that simplistic is a very good sound for Khalid.
“Talk” is a quirky little track that has Khalid singing gleefully about having an opportunity to get into some trouble with a chick he’s feeling. Personally, I love the free-ness (Which I wish was a word) attached to this song, especially how Khalid navigates through his emotions caring less if he veers off course or sounds too thirsty (We’ve all been there, right?).
The word ‘banger’ isn’t necessarily the first thing that enters my mind when it comes to Khalid’s music, but please believe, “Better” is a banger!
“Better” is powered by this bass boomin’ instrumental that actually has trap music elements written all over it. While Khalid doesn’t approach the song like the fourth member of Migos or anything, instead he gets lost in the vibrations of the instrumental he’s given, stumbling over delicate sentiments and muttering his ass off vocally.
Hey, not everyone in the clubs are iced out and goonish looking, there’s some nerds in there, too!
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. INTRO (4/5)
2. BAD LUCK (4.5/5)
3. MY BAD (5/5)
4. BETTER (5/5)
5. TALK (5/5)
6. RIGHT BACK (4.5/5)
7. DON’T PRETEND (4.5/5)
8. PARADISE (3.5/5)
9. HUNDRED (5/5)
10. OUTTA MY HEAD (5/5)
11. FREE SPIRIT (4/5)
12. TWENTY ONE (5/5)
13. BLUFFIN’ (4/5)
“Free Spirit” was not hard to grade at all. Most songs were fantastic on it, which I was actually not surprised by at all. Matter of fact, I will go as far as to say that this album is damn-there flawless.
In “Free Spirit,” Khalid operates with both a free spirit and free mind, dabbling in structure-less music that attempts to reach your soul through several different angles. In other words, the man who made finding the location of your woman sound cool, was able to feed us authentic soul in the form of pop, R&B and club music. S**t, anyone else feel like they were just fed the musical equivalent of a good ass burger made with Beyond Meat?
Other than Khalid’s vintage flat-top, do you know what I love about him the most? How lost he gets in his music. At times on this album, Khalid nearly sounds inaudible, and that’s mainly because the vibrations of whatever song he’s on has sucked him in so much, he doesn’t even know how to sound cognizant. While this particular finding may make it a bit difficult to fully understand everything Khalid is saying on a particular song, it does make his vocal performances come across as more riveting, his melodies sound more pleasing, and most importantly, it makes his subject-matters sound more urgent.
While listening to this album, I tried to walk in Khalid’s shoes, experiencing the pleasures and perils that he felt came with comprehending love at the tender age of 21. While in his shoes, initially I felt happiness, somberness, hope and despair. Eventually, I came to understand that Khalid wants us to embrace each and every one those feelings, never bottling them up. While in Khalid’s shoes, I realized he can care less about his shoes, he’s all about getting everyone else to feel comfortable in theirs.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.