At 19, Khalid is racking up awards and hits, and he's just getting started

Khalid performs at Radio City Music Hall  Jan. 27, 2018. He will be in Raleigh June 7, 2018.
Khalid performs at Radio City Music Hall Jan. 27, 2018. He will be in Raleigh June 7, 2018. Photo by Andy Kropa

Khalid isn’t an overnight sensation but he’s close to sporting that tag. The R&B singer-songwriter, who is also known as Khalid Robinson, hit the Billboard charts in 2016 with the single “Location."

That was just a year after Khalid signed with RCA as a 17-year-old. Two years later, he went to the Grammy Awards with five nominations, including best new artist, best R&B song (“Location”) and song of the year. Just a few weeks ago, he won the top new artist award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.

It's an impressive rise for an uncompromising young recording artist, who crafts sensual, stylish and soothing tunes. Khalid will showcase songs from his debut album “American Teen,” including current hit "Young Dumb & Broke," when he performs June 7 at Red Hat Amphitheater. Here’s what you should know about Khalid.

1. Khalid loves sonic diversity

Lorde, Frank Ocean, Father John Misty, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Grizzly Bear and James Blake are among his varied group of influences. No wonder “American Teen” is so eclectic. Khalid told the Independent in 2017 that genres almost seem like unnecessary genres.

"Music’s just so much bigger than... everything," he told the British paper. "Genres were definitely created for radio, and radio is still a powerhouse but it’s not the way we receive music right now, we listen to it in so many different ways. So you always have so many different suggestions."

2. Around the world

His mother served in the Army, and Khalid grew up a military brat. He bounced around from Germany to Kentucky to New York to Texas.

3. Friends in high places

Khalid has blown up in part because of tastemakers Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Like the famous sisters or not, the members of the Kardashian brood can make or break artists or products, and they love Khalid. The Jenners have tweeted and shared snapchats of themselves listening to his music.

4. A connection

But “American Teen" also is successful because Khalid connects with young people and what's on their minds. American Teen” is up there with Car Seat Headrest’s angst-ridden albums, when it comes to conveying what teens are thinking about these days.

5. It’s not about Trump

It might sound like it but the title track is not a response to Donald Trump becoming president. “American Teen” was written before the election. Khalid told the Independent it was penned as an ode to his days as a high school senior. Four co-writers helped Khalid put the finishing touches on the song.

6. Khalid has good taste

Cigarettes After Sex, an indie band riding a buzzy wave, is one of the latest emerging acts Khalid has raved about via social media.

7. Speaking his mind

It’s obvious where Khalid stands on gun control. “Protect our Children” was the message Khalid shared courtesy of his shirt while performing during the recent Billboard Music Awards. He and Shawn Mendes sang "Youth" with the choir from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., to recognize victims of gun violence.

8. Time to be real

“Young, Dumb and Broke” is the quintessential “American Teen” tune. Khalid writes what he knows. He’s about giving a voice to disenfranchised youth. Khalid told the Independent that it wasn’t that long ago he was among teens trying to figure it out. However, Khalid has turned his experiences into an enviable career. “American Teen” is a compilation of his youth.

9. It’s all about love

Khalid is adept at writing vulnerable love songs. Loneliness and fractured relationships are in his wheelhouse. Khalid has said he would rather write about what really matters as opposed to glorifying the frivolous.

10. Khalid loves his mother

The El Paso resident is open about how his mother helped shape a responsible child, who learned early on about how important it is to work your tail off. Khalid also mentions his mother in the catchy “8TEEN.” “My car still smells like marijuana/My mom is gonna kill me.” Odds are that Khalid’s mom will cut him a break since her son turned out alright.


Who: Khalid

When: 8 p.m. June 7

Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh.

Tickets: Ticket start at $109

Info: 919-996-8800 or redhatamphtheater.com

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