Khalid’s “Location” is on the Road to Success

by Ayanna Jacobs-El

Have you heard of Khalid? No, I’m not talking about rapper, producer, and so-called “inspirational” speaker DJ Khaled. I’m talking about Khalid Robinson, a singer-songwriter from El Paso Texas. He rose to prominence because of his hit debut single “Location.” The song is about how in this digital age we are sometimes so caught up in communicating over our phones rather than face-to-face. This song uses this idea in reference to young love and how Khalid would rather speak to the girl he is interested than communicating through methods like sub-tweets. I think that this relevant message is part of the reason why this song has gained such immense popularity. The other reason is that it is just a great track!

Many of Khalid’s songs fit into the Alternative and Contemporary R&B genres and some are more in the pop music realm. Notable artists in the Alternative and Contemporary R&B genres are The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, The Internet, and Solange. “Location” features mellow and sparse, jazzy production, with a deep and rich bass line. I like some of the old-school 90s sounds in the chorus with “hey-ho” chants and a prominent electric piano. Khalid’s voice is very soulful and full of emotion, which is something that isn’t usually found in many 19-year-olds.

According to Khalid, he got the inspiration for the song from the beat. The looped synth line that occurs throughout the track reminded him of a cellphone notification tone. From there the lyrics came very easily and he came up with the very catchy chorus. He said that after he heard the beat he went back home to El Paso where, “it reminded me of this girl I was talking to, and I wanted to impress her, so I just finished the song there.”

From January–February 2017 Khalid embarked on his 21-city US “Location Tour,” which also continued in Europe. He performed sold out shows at every venue in the US, including the 1,500-capacity Tricky Falls in El Paso, and the tour continued abroad.

With regard to his musical inspirations, Khalid has said that his mother is his biggest musical inspiration. He also mentioned that Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Father John Misty, Frank Ocean, Grizzly Bear, Chance the Rapper, India.Arie, and James Blake serve as influences.

With his current success, it seems like Khalid is on his way to the top. He already possesses a special sound that is distinctly his own. This is something that many new artists have trouble finding but Khalid seems to have a clear idea of his musical direction. The young crooner is currently signed to Right Hand Music Group and RCA Records. “Location” has peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and gone platinum. He also released his debut album American Teen on March 3rd, 2017 which debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200. If you ask me, Khalid’s current trajectory is extremely impressive and I hope that he continues to make waves in the music world for years to come.


About the Author

Ayanna Jacobs-El
Ayanna Jacobs-El is a composer, producer, songwriter, singer, alto and baritone saxophonist, and DJ dual majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production and Professional Music with a minor in Writing for TV and New Media. You can learn more about Ayanna and hear her music by visiting