I grew up in a country where we were basically homogeneous, meaning, we were of the same race, the Malay race, and although we have some indigenous people and Filipino-Chinese, they have really integrated into our society so that we don’t really think of them as none other than Filipinos. I am saying this because I will not even pretend to understand how it is to grow up in a heterogeneous environment where one is a minority and not the majority. As foreigners watching America from a distance, we watch with a bit of alarm - news about racial conflicts and how young Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, are being shot by the police just because of their racial profile. That is why when I first heard Khalid’s song American Teen, I admit I was amazed at his assertiveness, especially that in a Donald Trump environment – America seems so white and so anti-immigrant – as his disdain for Latinos and other non-white Americans has been openly expressed. Khalid proudly sings in the song “My youth is the foundation of me. I am proud to be American” – and here I see an African-American, tall, a bit menacing, but with a leathery yet beautiful and expressive voice and a name which is usually associated with Muslims. If your name is Khalid in the Philippines, we immediately assume you are a Muslim. So to see an African-American male with a non-white name proudly say he’s American – we embrace the idea with our whole heart – and wish that in the future – the youth from my ethnic group – the Filipino-Americans – can also proudly proclaim in a song “I’m an American teenager.” Don’t get me wrong, Khalid is not trying to be political, he is just proud of who he is.
Released in 2017, 15 tracks, 56 min
Khalid released his debut album titled American Teen and it is full of R&B bangers that talk a lot about his personal experiences. It is an album comprised of fifteen tracks and a combination of R&B and chill vibes. The album features a string of songs that follow a theme of heartbreak and doomed love, but also includes some anthems for the youth, including the super popular “Young Dumb and Broke.”
This is Khalid’s debut album and project released a few weeks after his 19th birthday, and it did not disappoint. The project is somewhat of a time capsule, as it takes one through the rush of life we all felt at one point in our teenage life. The instability we went through as our bodies underwent changes and even our cognition was developing into what we would most likely end up doing or being in our adult life. It is the age where passion is discovered and dreams are made before we decide on how to pursue it. The album is a reminder for we young adults about the dreams we had to let go probably due to one circumstance or the other, all of which qualifies as LIFE. The album is worth a listen, and it is easily relatable by teenagers as well, the lyricism is good but basic as he stuck to the normal laws of lyricism; telling a story. He didn’t bother with word play, figures of speech and all other technicality that comes with experience. A teenager that told a story of things he was going through and has gone through his entire life; love, drugs, American dream, frustrations from being unable to achieve other things like moving out of his parents’ house, making terrible decision and wrong actions all because of being young and well, dumb. The instrumentation of the album as well shouldn’t be ignored. It was something new entirely and yet still remained under the R&B, guess it had a lot of blues and still connects with the soul of the listener, because at the end of the day, every aged individual will relate as they all were once teenagers with high hopes, dreams and probably reckless behaviours. “American Dream” had that touch of 80’s sound perfectly blended with the bass and his vocals was in between rap and singing just made the song at home to an older listener with love for 80’s pop songs. The 80’s synths feel could be felt through out the entire album that gave a sense of deja vu yet, you haven’t heard it before, then you’re bopping your head, snapping your fingers and probably dancing to the tune as it chimes on into your ears. The love songs on there are the kind of love stories you hear from teenagers and kids, especially the first love story, which showed he decided to stay his age which was a different story from that of Justin Bieber’s “My World” and “My World 2.0” which had much more matured lyrics a Fifteen year old wouldn’t be able to come up with. That simplicity seemed very acceptable because you aren’t expecting a The Weeknd, Chris Brown or Miguel, rather, you’re at a high school talent show to listen to a talented student sing and then you get wowed by the level of talent and untapped potentials that is right there in front of you, then you can’t but help to wonder how much he would improve with time and experience. At the end of the album lies “Angel”, a “Thank you for coming” song, as an appreciation song, only that the song then goes back to a normal song expected from an high school student, trying to infuse a drug high into a love story, but it’s very obvious to you as a parent and you just begin to judge the student as a drug user or abuser. All in all, it’s a good album worth listening to, if you need to reminisce to days of “Young Dumb & Broke”.
I connected with this girl, or at least thought I did. We both liked this album American Teen, and the same shows too. Maybe it was a red flag: besides a few things in common, I had only known her for a week. Still, I was pretty bold and said we should hang out. She couldn’t go to bars because she was 19 and I was 21, but I bought us a 12 pack of Natural Ice and took her to a park and we vibed to this album in my car. Even though we talked about the songs (her favorite was “Location”), she kept talking about her on again off again boyfriend and relating every track to him or them. I distinctly remember saying “well I’m single” and hearing crickets. At some point I mouthed the lyrics to Shot Down “you got me shot down by love, and you got my heart now, why won't you stop now?” towards her direction as cute/casual as I could but it was like the whole mood had shifted, and so we called it a night.
American Teen reminds me of summer 2017 after sophomore year. If I wasn’t playing Khalid, somebody in somebody’s car was. I went to four big parties, but at the second party, I probably had the best time. There were a lot of kids in the garage playing beer pong, which I didn’t understand, because the ball is picking up whatever is on the ground. So instead, I hung out in one of the bedrooms where they were playing this album with some kids that weren’t my usual circle, but the girls there were actually friendly for popular girls and we were drinking and somehow we ended up playing spin the bottle, which I never played before. For most of the time it kept stopping on the girl that I liked the least, but that was all ok in the end because it did land on the one I wanted to kiss, and she actually kissed me instead of being weird about it. When I hear “8TEEN” I get that same feeling again, like it’s a movie.
I left my girlfriend of two years because of American Teen. She was my first real girlfriend, but it was like because she was my first, she kept claiming I would leave one day by default. She was possessive, even over music. She wouldn’t let me sing with her when she was singing to Drake or Khalid when we were driving places. What’s funny is I didn’t like songs like “Young Dumb and Broke” at first – she did, but because of Khalid’s style and lyricism in his songs, all about indecision and missed connections and just wanting to get out of town, I began to recognize more and more that I just couldn’t be there or with her anymore. I was so excited when I left. She hates me anyways so it doesn’t matter if I talk about it. Thanks for introducing me to Khalid Kim.
Official Music Videos
Featuring Version Videos
Remix Version Videos
- Mar 03, 2017
- Right Hand
- Syk Sense (also exec.)
- Alfredo Gonzalez
- Bryan Medina
- Daniel Picciotto
- Dave Sava6e
- Hiko Momoji
- Joel Little
- Sevn Thomas
- Smash David
- Chris McClenney
- The Arcade
- Tunji Ige
- UNO Stereo
- Beacon Hill Recording Studio (El Paso, TX)
- Golden Age (Los Angeles, CA)
- Body High Studios (Los Angeles, CA)
- Gower House Studios (Los Angeles, CA)
- Temple Base Studios (Los Angeles, CA)
- Black Wax Studio (New York, NY)
- The Premises Studios (London, United Kingdom)
- Sony/ATV Studios (London, United Kingdom)
Contributors / Perfectionists
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