This story is over 5 years old.


A Year of Lil Wayne: Location, Location, Location

And lot of talent on Khalid's "Location" remix.

Day 182: "Location (Remix)" feat. Lil Wayne and Kehlani – Khalid, American Teen , 2017

I'm all in on Khalid, the El Paso-via-global teen singer, but I didn't arrive there immediately. When I first heard "Location," it seemed like the kind of calculated, blogger-baiting pop that it's theoretically my job as a music website editor to sift through, and his tentative guest performance of it at the Tunji Ige show in New York last spring didn't convince me he was all the way there (Ige co-produced the track; and to be fair, Khalid was still in high school at the time). Sincere talent, I think, is sometimes easy to mistake for something else: a fluke, a happy accident, an unformed idea. Often it's a little bit gawky or cheesy or obvious because the talent is bigger than the concept. Recent examples that come to mind are Chance the Rapper's 10Day and Kehlani's You Should Be Here. But another good example might be Lil Wayne, who has pretty much never been a conceptually coherent artist. If you were to ask what the overarching point or message of Lil Wayne's music is, I'd have no answer for you because Lil Wayne doesn't make music that way. It's too sprawling and absurd and occasionally stupid. The point, really, is the sheer talent and virtuosity.

So far, by dint of having around one two-hundredth of Wayne's recorded output, Khalid has a much more conceptually focused product to offer, and there is a pretty clear narrative to his music, as reflected in the nail-on-the-head album title American Teen. But Kehlani and Wayne are perfect additions for the remix of his biggest hit because they are fellow artists for whom the narrative of them as artists becomes interesting by force of their talent. There's a differently expressed but similarly intense quality of sincerity in all three, and it's something that is particularly rare in an era where good marketing and a compelling social media presence can be enough to vault a song up the charts. You believe in Wayne because of the talent, and the same is true of Kehlani and Khalid, two younger artists who give me great hope for the future. So, even though Wayne offers a not particularly romantic metaphor about roses and rosacea here, I hope that his presence gives this song the extra boost it needs to be a smash hit. The raw materials are certainly there.

Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.