Khalid broke into the music industry when his hit single “Location” led his debut album, “American Teen,” to success. The album ultimately reached the number four spot on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified double platinum. In addition to its commercial success, the album received a nomination at the Grammy Awards for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and the song “Location” was nominated for Best R&B Song.
Since the success of his debut album, Khalid has been releasing a number of singles and collaborating with a wide variety of artists. He took a dive into the electronic world working with Marshmello and Martin Garrix on the tracks “Silence” and “Ocean.” Utilizing the success of his previous work, Khalid also contributed to the soundtracks of the films “Black Panther,” “Love, Simon” and “Superfly,” collaborating with artists such as Swae Lee, Normani, and H.E.R in the process. While he was able to build upon his success through stand-alone singles, fans anxiously awaited the project that would follow a successful debut album.
Khalid opted to release an EP, rather than an album, to follow his breakout album, “American Teen.” The new EP, “Suncity,” displays Khalid’s wide range of talent while simultaneously delivering a similar sound to the project’s predecessor. “Suncity” comes in with seven tracks and a short run-time of 21 minutes. While quality is far better than quantity, two of the tracks included are an intro and an interlude, leaving listeners with only five cuts that feature legitimate vocals from the artist.
The opening track “9.13” features an instrumental with Khalid harmonizing along with light synth tones as they are introduced into the mix. Over this we hear the audio of the ceremony in which Khalid Donnel Robinson receives the key to the city of El Paso. The intro sets the tone as Khalid continues to represent his hometown on an EP that appears to be dedicated to the city that he loves.
Khalid begins to introduce a wide range of sounds on the project with “Vertigo.” The song opens with an instrumental interpolation of the 2008 Coldplay hit “Viva La Vida.” The track features the artist asking himself a series of questions in a reflective tone as he looks back on the choices he made in life. The theme of reflection into Khalid’s life is further explored in “Salem’s Interlude” as it features dialogue from model Salem Mitchell exploring aspects of life such as one’s fears, the path of life and overall happiness.
“Suncity” continues to show Khalid’s diversity as “Saturday Nights” implements acoustic guitar into the production as the primary tone for a majority of the track. Charlie Handsome, the producer of every track on the album, has worked with similar production techniques in the past. He has been previously credited with production on the Post Malone track “Go Flex,” which displayed his creativity as he blended the genres of pop, rap and country, utilizing the acoustic guitar in the process.
The track “Motion” allows Khalid to display his full vocal range as he soars into his upper register for the verses while never showing any difficulty controlling his voice. A creative outro for the song samples the lead single for the EP “Better” which ties the track in as it follows immediately after. Khalid shows off his smooth vocals on “Better” as he shares his feelings surrounding a relationship that in modern terms would be classified as a “friends with benefits” situation.
The “Suncity” EP comes to a close as Khalid infuses the internationally rising genre of reggaeton into the title track. The track features Empress Of as the two sing “Llevame ciudad de sol / Llevame, llevame / Donde deje mi corazon” which roughly translates to “Take me to suncity / Take me, take me / Where I left my heart.” Despite his best efforts, Khalid falls short in his spanish pronunciation as he capitalizes off the sudden craze in the United States towards Latin music.
With “Suncity,” Khalid displays his versatility in music while delivering the sounds that his fans initially fell in love with. While the project features quality records, Khalid fails to project growth as an artist as he continues to explore similar themes in his music. The project was concise and did not over-deliver in a market where streams are sought out in an attempt to rack up sales numbers. The choice to release an EP has left fans wanting more, allowing for the perfect level of anticipation leading into a sophomore album.