“Scenic Drive (The Tape)”

Khalid has provided a bundle of hits once again as he enters a new era: soulful R&B.



Khalid pictured performing on his “American Teen” tour for fans in the Philippines.

Sophia Earnest, Features Editor

On Dec. 3, 2021, American singer-songwriter Khalid released his third studio album, “Scenic Drive (The Tape)” much to fans’ approval. 

“Free Spirit”, Khalid’s second studio album, was released in April of 2019, and although since then the singer has released numerous singles with other artists, fans were anxiously awaiting the next taste of the singer’s work. 

Much to fans’ appeasement, Khalid began dropping subtle hints to new music in late September across his social media platforms before he released the first single off the album, “Present”, on Oct. 22. 

The single was very different from Khalid’s previous solo music, taking on the more R&B soulful sound that was commonly seen throughout his work with other artists. As the singer is notorious for his work as a featured artist, it was an interesting look into what he can do himself. 

Although the song was very different from his previous releases, fans lapped it up, loving the new era of R&B Soul Khalid that we seemed to be heading into. 

Excitingly, after the release of “Present”, in an attempt to overwhelm fans, Khalid announced his next album was to be released on Dec. 3rd. Expectations of the album were high, yet strained. 

Although Khalid has produced successful R&B work, his first and most renowned work, “American Teen”, was more contemporary and alternative. 

“Free Spirit” was already a stretch for his loyal fans as he tried to emerge into the realm of pop, so there was some apprehension seen as far as him emerging into the world of soulful R&B. 

Yet once again, Khalid did not disappoint. 

On Nov. 22, Khalid posted the tracklist to his social media along with a thank you to the featured artists, as 7 out of 9 of the tracks had other artists. 

The album began with “Intro” featuring Alicia Keys.

You hear the start of a car and the sounds of tuning an old radio, hearing snippets of two of his most popular songs, “Location” and “Talk”. Keys’s voice then comes on thanking us for listening and telling us to “enjoy the ride”, which was then followed by serene vocals and beats.

After an introduction as such, along with the album title being “Scenic Drive (The Tape)”, it was evident that Khalid’s message to be taken from the album was going for a drive. 

This could be literal, listening to the album whilst on a scenic drive. Or it could be viewed as symbolic, the lyrics being freeing for him and listeners, similar to the feeling of taking a scenic drive. 

This symbolic view could then be further dissected once paying attention to the lyrics as many focus on the pushes and pulls of a relationship, some platonic and some romantic, some negative and some positive. 

This was heavily displayed in the 7th track of the album, “Voicemail”, featuring Kiana Lede. 

The song begins with a voicemail from what seems to be a  previous lover before Khalid takes over, continuing the voicemail’s pleas to said lover. Lede then comes on after the 1st week, responding to her former lover’s pleas and accusations.

Alongside the lyrics, both artists’ vocal abilities were able to shine through on their own, but their voices mixing is simply beautiful. 

Throughout the entire album, it was very beat oriented, another new concept for Khalid, as his songs normally highlighted his vocals. 

It felt as if this work was him mixing aspects of “American Teen” and “Free Spirit”.

Elements of “American Teen” are seen in the previously mentioned “Voicemail” for example, as it seems to be a continuation of a track from his 1st album, “Therapy”, which ends with a voicemail.

“Free Spirit” elements are also seen throughout the album, specifically “All I Feel Is Rain” featuring JID, as there is a good contrast between verses and chorus. The verses are moving faster, more rap-like, whilst the chorus is him harmonizing with himself, reaching his falsetto.

The end of the album brings back these elements of “American Teen” as it fades out into dial tones and blurred vocals.

Overall, it feels as if this album addresses his growth as an artist. 

He starts by addressing his successes with some of his older work in “Intro”,  followed by an introduction to the new era he is emerging into as an artist in “Present”. For the remainder of the album, he seems to be pulling elements from his previous albums and tying it with this new vibe he is going for.

The final and title track of the album seems to be his closing statement of how he can reach all audiences and it summarizes who he is as an artist now. 

“Scenic Drive” featuring Ari Lennox and Siminio addresses his vocals, beats, featured artists, harmonies, and r&b vibe he is going for. 

It is a feel good kind of song. The falsetto layered on top of deep harmonization creates the beat, while feminine vocals and rapping alongside his voice adds yet another contrast and element to the song. 

The song takes you for a rollercoaster, as the serene chorus fades into chaos with conflicting vocals to then fade back to calm for next verse. Nonetheless, I’m still picturing him dancing and smiling while singing the chorus.

The song is a good ending for the piece as it not only addresses who he wants to be as an artist, it also wraps up his message of the album, taking a scenic drive.

Regardless, for those who are looking for something to listen to while on a physical Scenic Drive, or even on an emotional one, Khaild has provided a 10/10 listen once again.