A whirlwind of events within a few short weeks – from his first YouTube song posting, all the way to the board rooms of Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ) in New York City – have brought 15-year old Khalil from the sleepy Sacramento suburb of Antelope, California to the ever-expanding Teen Island roster in record time.
“Girlfriend,” the debut single by Khalil on Def Jam, written and produced by 15-time #1 hitmaker Sean Garrett, will impact at Urban and Rhythm radio formats on May 24th. “Girlfriend” is the first track to be released from Khalil’s upcoming debut album, with featured performances from Young Money’s Lil’ Twist and others. Stay tuned for more info on this work-in-progress.
Quietly inspired by the cross-generation ballads of Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson and Usher – Khalil was pursuing his life-long passion for basketball (as 7th grade team captain) when art interrupted life two years ago. He took up his aunt’s suggestion to upload a video of himself singing on YouTube, so the rest of his family could witness his talent. Before long, Worldwide Entertainment executive Kevin Wales was reaching out to Khalil’s aunt – and the 13-year old was on a plane to Atlanta to make his first demo recordings.
Attending private school (and keeping up his b-ball game!), while working with some of the top producers and songwriters in the Big Peach, Khalil fell right into the studio process. Wales and his associate, well known industry A&R guru Kawan ‘KP’ Prather (who has worked with Usher, P!nk, and T.I.) brought Khalil to New York for a meeting and audition with IDJ Chairman Antonio ‘L.A.’ Reid. Khalil wisely chose to sing Frankie Lymon’s version of the Johnny Mercer standard “Goody Goody” and Mr. Reid liked what he heard. “He was like, ‘kids your age don’t even know about songs like that!,” Khalil recalls. Within the hour, his contract with IDJ was signed, sealed and delivered.
“I just want to make great music,” says Khalil. “The state of music now is not as good as it was back when the Stevie Wonders and the Donny Hathaways were out. I want to bring back great records and the fact that people can still make them. I feel like artists used to tell a story when they made music.” Now it’s Khalil’s chance to tell some of his own stories.