Hailing from El Paso, Texas, and still only 19 years of age, Khalid Robinson brings a gorgeous soulful touch that introduces modern love to traditional ballad structures. ‘Location,’ his debut single, was recorded shortly before his high school prom and has picked up over 30 million plays with its bubbly production and sense of contemporary forward motion (“I don’t wanna fall in love off of subtweets so / Let’s keep personal / I got a lot of cool spots that we can go”). Subsequent tracks like ‘Let’s Go,’ a budding summer anthem, and December’s tender piano-led piece ‘Coaster‘ stretch the sunset vibe in smooth new directions.
Led by his incredibly raspy voice, Khalid’s is a sound that is distinct from other upcoming R&B artists. Showing his emotion through blissful vocals in songs like ‘Location’ with their desperate, wanting tones, his ability to use his voice so well to develop his sound at such a young age shows the potential of what this year can bring, whether in EP or album form. His sound, aided by bass-heavy production from names like Tunji Ige, is fresh and modern, bringing R&B to 2017 rather than taking 2017 to R&B. Through lyrics which present love through a relatable millennial lens using authentic contemporary language, Khalid’s promise is strong within a scene that has lost youthful direction in recent years.