Khalid’s Suncity delivers signature sound but fails to differentiate from previous works

John Melendez

After five Grammy nominations, collaborations with Logic and Kendrick Lamar and a certified platinum album, it’s safe to say there are plenty of eyes on what R&B singer-songwriter Khalid Robinson will do next.

On Friday, Khalid released his first body of work since his debut album American Teen. In his latest EP Suncity, the 20-year-old crooner displays his unique voice and multifaceted singing ability but does not explore new avenues of musical expression since his last project.

The seven-track project Suncity is not the sophomore album that everybody was waiting for. Instead, it’s a collection of R&B and pop-soul ballads with a total runtime of 21 minutes, and it features Khalid’s warm, smooth voice that sets him apart from other modern pop artists.

Despite the short run time, the EP still manages to feel personal and open in some ways. Audio of when Khalid received the key to the city of El Paso begins the project. Suncity is another name for El Paso, where Khalid attended high school. The artist has openly shared his love and appreciation for his home city since rising to prominence.

Khalid shared via Twitter that the EP took about three weeks to create and was mainly meant to experiment with new sounds and have fun. While the album does manage to avoid serious topics, the musical style remains static. “Saturday Nights” delivers an acoustic love ballad about a girl who he says he cares more about than her parents do. As Khalid slows down the tempo, his smooth voice is able to carry the song in a way that feels like he is telling a story.

The project’s fifth track “Motion” sees a higher-pitched Khalid in his most pop and R&B-infused song on the EP. The song’s echoey vibes about living in the moment create a perfect atmosphere for late-night drives and romantic reflection that Khalid is known for.

In the final and titular track “Suncity,” Khalid delivers a Spanish chorus that feels made to be a radio hit. The reggaeton-fueled song features Latina songwriter Lorely Rodriguez, known more commonly by her stage name Empress Of, alongside Khalid. While the song could have easily added him to the list of mainstream artists jumping onto the Latin-inspired bandwagon, Khalid’s history with the hispanic-dominant city of El Paso helps to create a feeling a genuineness.

The EP succeeds in delivering Khalid’s signature sound in several new forms. Despite this, the songs do not feel like the start of a new era. Khalid’s surface-level songwriting in the project does not properly prove the artist has grown since his last project.

By releasing the EP, Khalid is able to tie fans over until his sophomore album. Hopefully, when Khalid’s sophomore album debuts, it will be a cohesive project that truly captures how far he has come as an artist. Until then, fans can be satisfied with more of the Khalid they know and love.


Rating: 7/10