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Album Review: ‘American Teen’ by Khalid

Addison Gallagher, Editor-in-chief

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Khalid Robinson, in his debut album American Teen, revolutionized representation for the modern youth in form of pop-R&B songs that preach of loneliness, high school raging, unstable relationships, and technology.

The album, which was released on March 3rd, charted at Number 4 and, eventually, became certified platinum. But just months ago, Khalid was an independent Soundcloud artist on the verge of graduating high school in El Paso, Texas. Prior to Texas, he lived in New York, Germany, and, before that, Kentucky- the type of moving around that is expected of an Army brat.

The effects of moving around constantly as a military child influenced his unsettled emotions and fear of attachment that prevail in his songs. Furthermore, his life was gravely impacted by the sudden death of his father, who was killed when Khalid was seven years-old by a drunk driver.

“I was very upset, mad – the stages of grief,” he explained in an interview with Rolling Stone. “That’s probably why I matured a lot faster than a lot of people my age- because I already lost something super close to me.”

Yet he managed to come back from grieving, turning to music for coping. Through this music, he created a narrative of distress and conflict which, on the surface, seems positive and upbeat with its reflective eighties-pop melodies. His own personal story acts as a representation of millennial youth, inputting references to modern culture, seen in his breakout single ‘Location,’ where he confronts technology’s effect on relationships by saying, “I don’t wanna fall in love off of subtweets so/let’s get personal.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Khalid addressed his position as a representative for teenagers. “We forget that when you grow up, there are a lot of people who are in the same position as you. The reason we forget is because there’s not really a true voice that talks from the perspective of youth. A lot of my songs are about loneliness and losing relationships. Even the ones that are happy- there’s a lonely undertone to them.”

His own story is capable of unifying millions of teenagers who feel misunderstood in a world where parental, cultural, and emotional influences could often be overwhelming.

As for Khalid currently, he has been featured in multiple tracks including collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Logic, and Future, and can now be found amidst the world of fame. In his feature article with Rolling Stone, he explains how he sees an upgraded car and house- all materialistic examples of success- to reward himself for making it in the industry.

“But I want to buy it in El Paso, because I want kids to drive by and say ‘That’s Khalid’s house,’” he said in reference to his future plans for real estate. “It’ll inspire them. That’s how dreamers are born.”

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