Khalid’s “Free Spirit” Album Review

The remarkable R&B innovator Khalid released his sophomore album “Free Spirit,” while working hard to give the fans what they want.

Khalid is no longer “Young, Dumb, and Broke,” but he is an emerging pop star who has been working tirelessly to give his fans an adequate follow-up to his debut album American Teen. The 21-year-old reflected on the pressure he felt while recording Free Spirit in a recent interview with his close friend and collaborator, Billie Eilish.

“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.”

Free Spirit provides a mix of genre-less songs with Khalid’s melodic voice fitting perfectly over every instrumental. With 17 tracks and huge collaborations, the emerging pop-star carries the same beloved style that his first album brought us. While American Teen focused on shouting-out all the sad kids facing regular teenage struggles, Free Spirit attempts to showcase the singers growth as an individual. He is opening up about his true self and embraces what it means to be grown-up.

In the albums intro, Khalid tells us about his struggles with a relationship that is coming to an end: “I can’t even live with being by myself / That’s the part of me that really needs your help / Lately, I haven’t been doing very well / That’s the difference between heaven and hell.”

We can hear a similar story being told in songs, “Talk,” “My Bad,” and “Don’t Pretend,” following the theme that relationships require hard work. Not only do these songs have a relatable message, but they feature powerful collaborations: with “Talk” being produced by U.K. house duo – Disclosure, and “Don’t Pretend” featuring SAFE.

Other remarkable collaborations include John Mayer’s appearance on “Outta My Head,” which features subtle but beautiful harmonizations between the two. The album also credits Father John Misty for his assistance in producing “Heaven,” Murda Beatz, and John Hill (producer for Portugal. The Man).

Hundred” is a song that highlights the battle between staying positive during hard times, stating: “Life is never easy when you need it to be / Try to knock me down but I get back on my feet / Everybody’s angry, and they’re coming for me / But I can’t give them energy that I won’t receive.” These powerful lyrics make this song stand out as he attempts to bring peace amongst those who feel hopeless.

Self” is another powerful song that features the internal dialogue the singer faces in moments of self-doubt, making it one of my favorite songs off the album: “Does my raw emotion make me less of a man? Always had a little trouble with self reflections.”

The album clearly shows the musicians internal battles, and it is hard to hear from someone who is still so young and constantly in the spotlight. With lyrics like ““Heaven, make me an offer / Lord, there’s nothing left for me out here” off of his song “Heaven,” the singer is openly sharing his struggles to the world.

Khalid also offers a range of care-free pop tunes like “Better” and “Right Back,” reminding us that there is still a big part of the musician that is cheerful and grounded. Both songs have beats that will warm your heart and catchy choruses that keep you hitting repeat.

It is always difficult for an artist to top their first album, and it is still undecided if Khalid has done so. However, he deserves admiration for the truth he tells through his lyrics. Khalid has been recognized as a man of the past and present. He is still young, but there is an old-soul tucked away in his heart. He is seeking growth and experience, and refuses to repeat himself. Khalid is a remarkable pop/R&B star of our generation and has nothing but big things in store for the future.

Written by: Brittany Roache

Behind the Mic: Christian Le

Christian Le, a music DJ at KCR, begins his playlist for the night in the studio.

Every Wednesday night at 10, Christian Le, a junior at SDSU, can be found in the KCR studio starting his show, “All Earz on Le.” I sat down to interview Christian and find out who was behind the mic. In his second semester with KCR, Christian is continuing his music-oriented show, playing a mix of 90’s and modern rap and R&B. Christian said that the show’s title is a play on 2Pac’s “All Eyez on Me,” which is right in line with his music taste.

According to Christian, last semester’s show was heavily focused on music, but later in the semester he brought in some guests to be on air. For the spring, Christian said he is “pretty much going all out” with his show by having more guests and compiling interviews. “I want to do more variety,” Christian added. He wants to be more comedic and more conversational.

Christian builds a new playlist for his show every week. Being born in the later half of the 90’s, Christian said that he wasn’t able to fully appreciate the legends 2Pac or Biggie Smalls, although both make appearances in his playlists. Modern rap finds its way onto Christian’s playlists too, through giants such as Kendrick Lamar.

When I asked Christian about any inspirations he had for his show, he mentioned the podcast “The Handsome Rambler,” by Hannibal Buress. Christian pointed out that he hopes to replicate a segment from Hannibal’s podcast, in which he invites his Tinder matches onto the show. With humor being a focal point for “All Earz on Le,” a new Tinder segment would bring a modern comedic twist to the show.

As the sole host of his show, Christian loves the creative freedom he has. Christian told me that early in the fall semester, his co-host left him, forcing him to adapt to running the show by himself, a challenge he seemed to be thankful for.

I asked Christian to describe the biggest challenge he has faced in relation to his show. Being that the show is rap and R&B, Christian said ensuring all his music is clean proves to be the biggest hurdle. KCR avoids explicit lyrics, a policy that all DJ’s abide by.

Looking toward the future, Christian said that “it would be nice [to be] nominated for something,” when discussing next year’s Intercollegiate Broadcast System awards.

You can listen to Christian Le on his show, “All Earz on Le,” every Wednesday at 10 P.M. on KCR College Radio.

In addition, you can find your favorite DJs on our KCR schedule.

Featured Image: Christian Le, a marketing major at SDSU, finds a balance between classic and modern rap and R&B. Photo by Sumner Shorey.

A Review of RAY BLK’s “Durt” Mini-Album

There’s thousands of lyrically straightforward pop and R&B songs saturating the roster of today’s new music, but it’s not exactly easy finding candid pop and R&B with good lyrics. Abstractions are frequently the direction that skilled songwriters prefer to lean into – they’re more interpretive, and therefore less susceptible to criticism – but at times, metaphors and symbolic imagery aren’t of any immediate use. At times, what we’re looking for are answers or content that resonates with us, plain and simple. But as history’s most horribly-written music has demonstrated, not all songwriters can balance poetry with straightforwardness, and it’s that lyrical disparity that makes us cringe and say “even I can do better,” as we’re driving alone in our cars, for once concentrating on a song’s words.

Thankfully, we have artists like RAY BLK, whose mini-album (aka a longish EP) Durt is a 25-minute representation of creative candor. Hailing from south London, RAY BLK got an early start on songwriting – she began at 14 – and today, the 23-year-old R&B singer is offering us what could be labeled as raw, artful ‘big sister’ storytelling, comparable to other young Londoners on the rise, like the soulful Jorija Smith. Those familiar with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill will notice the thematic similarities between Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Ray’s short, yet clever “Hunny,” while the album’s title track, “Durt” is a lyrically grimmer, sexier version of Kandi’s “Don’t Think I’m Not.” In collaborations with UK-based producer SG Lewis and English rapper Wretch 32, Ray explores ended relationships from positions of both melancholy and shamelessness, making for a diverse listening experience.

Durt was released on October 28, also available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. RAY BLK can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


The featured image is promotional and belongs to its respective party.

Now Listening: Solange

Hey dudes and dudettes! I hope you like power house because oh man! Solange is killin’ it with her new album. A Seat at the Table was released a few weeks ago. Just like her older sister Beyoncé, Solange is a queen. She compiles R&B with soul and jazz to eloquently create an album worth talking about.

Solange has beautifully grown into herself as a woman and is shares her art in an exquisite way. A Seat at the Table is soft yet stern. Solange is empowered in her identity and independence. Rich, generous, and honest, this album is already a historical landmark for black cultural and social history.

A Seat at the Table documents the struggle of indignities of the current society in 2016. Artistic and emotionally rich, this album is open and radical. Solange does so all the while opening songs with rich piano solos and jazzy ensembles. Her R&B roots show through in a minimalist way. Beats, bass lines, synths, drowsy horns and trembling guitars, Solange pays tribute to the era and funk and soulful groove.

Impressive and provoking, Solange’s A Seat at the Table is a remarkable album full of power that is brutally honest and tender. It transcends space and time and will be a beautiful artifact from 2016 forever and ever.

Check out a few of the best tracks below. ❃