Khalid Struggles on New Album Transitioning from New Artist to New Star

Jack Uhl, Staff Writer

R&B artist Khalid was just 17 years old when he wrote his first album, “American Teen” and struck gold. Now at age 21, despite having the title “Free Spirit,” Khalid plays it safe with his sophomore album.

“Free Spirit” does not experiment with anything new nor does it have as much artistic expression as “American Teen.” The album is underwhelming, especially because Khalid released the better tracks prior to the official release, making the rest of the album seem lackluster in comparison.

Khalid openly admitted “Free Spirit” was not as strong as “American Teen.”

“You have your whole life to write your first album. You don’t have your whole life to write your second album. And, with your second album, you have to write more of what people want,” he said in a Jan. 31 interview alongside Billie Eilish for L’

Some of the album was written by widely known hitmakers such as Stargate, Disclosure, Hit Boy and Murda Beatz, resulting in somewhat of a disconnect from Khalid and his songs. Half of the album features trite love songs that are sonically overproduced.

Few songs actually seem to have individuality to them; at times it can be hard to tell when one song has ended and another has started. To top it off, some of the album’s stronger tracks such as “Better” and “Saturday Nights” are recycled straight from Khalid’s previous “Suncity” EP.

With that being said, there is some good content on the album. Khalid has a beautiful voice and his use of falsettos showcases his superb vocal technique. Songs such as “Outta My Head” and “My Bad” have elements of jazz and funk that make for an interesting addition to the album. Khalid is definitely a leading driver in bringing R&B music to a younger generation of music listeners and should be praised for his talent.

“Free Spirit” is in no way an awful album; it has a fair amount of solid tracks and is a great album to chill out to–it just could be better. Khalid should focus on quality over quantity and make songs he is passionate about instead of trying to appease his fanbase. It isn’t easy transitioning from being an up-and-coming artist to an established artist and “Free Spirit” makes the struggle apparent. Khalid has a lot of potential to become a mainstream icon if he focuses on creating genuine heartfelt music.


The album is an overall 5/10.