On Monday, March 18, Khalid’s team brought his Free Spirit College Experience Tour to Drexel University’s campus to promote his new album and its accompanying short film. Drexel and Penn students alike lined up beside the Drexel Dragon and a replica van from the film to get free merchandise, photo opportunities, and pizza. The merchandise ran out in just 10 minutes.
Khalid released Free Spirit's first single "Talk (feat. Disclosure)" on Feb. 7, before the official announcement of the album on which it would be featured. On Instagram the same day, Khalid announced the single's release with of a photo of him beside the same emblematic van, the album’s title painted discreetly on its side. It wouldn't be until Feb. 28 that Khalid released the album title, art, and release date (April 5). And one thing's for sure: Khalid’s back to impress just as he did for American Teen.
Following the announcement, he revealed that a short film featuring music from the album would be shown in theaters around the world for just one day on April 3, 2019. It will be followed by an first look at the album and commentary from Khalid, representing the first time that a new record will be shared with fans in theater before its official release. Conceived and directed by Khalid and Emil Nava, this film will serve as an artistic parallel to Khalid’s new music, illustrating the stories of “the beauty and the pain of growing up”.
It’s a creative move (perhaps borrowed from Beyonce’s 65–minute film accompanying her album, Lemonade) that demonstrates the new ways in which musicians can now transform themselves into superstars. Following the nearly overnight success of American Teen, Khalid seems to recognize that a spectacle is necessary to impress his fans.
His second and most recent single release for the album, “My Bad,” is already off to a good start for the rest of his album. At press time charting at number 19 on Billboard’s Hot 100, “My Bad,” manages a perfectly accessible and radio–ready pop sound without sacrificing Khalid’s smooth and emotional vocals. Like “Talk,” this single deals with theme of communicating love.
Musically, Khalid remains the same, with similar vocals and beats from his debut album. Listening to the lyrics of the two released singles, it’s clear that Khalid is still a voice of the adolescent experience, but he’s older now. He is more self–assured and confident, no longer a teen, but a twenty–something starting to figure out what he wants in life. Also set to be on the new album are “Better,” and “Saturday Nights” from Khalid’s debut EP Suncity.On both songs, Khalid sings confidently about love—he no longer sounds like a confused, brooding teen.
So what are we to expect from the rest of Khalid’s album? The same voice telling his story more confidently and assertively. Khalid’s a free spirit now, independent and unrestrained.