Zayn Malik’s ‘Mind of Mine': Everything We Know So Far
Zayn Malik quit the most popular and lucrative money-maker in pop music last year when he permanently parted ways with boy band One Direction. Despite announcing a desire for a more “normal” life, Zayn was photographed heading into a studio a day after the news broke. It soon became clear he was intent on moving past his X Factor roots as soon as humanly possible.
The result of those recordings will be released unto the world come March 25 — exactly one year to the day Zayn quit One Direction. As preparation for the upcoming album, we've compiled all the information we have thus far about Mind of Mine below.
Mind of Mine's Conception
Zayn signed with RCA Records last July, shortly after inking a deal with Turn First Artists and Iggy Azalea's manager. He began working alongside Grammy award-winning producer Malay -- who's worked with the likes of John Legend and Alicia Keys, but is perhaps best known for his work on Frank Ocean's widely heralded Channel Orange album -- and Malay had nothing but kind words for the former 1D singer last September.
Malay gave further insight into the recording process with Zayn during an interview with Billboard that saw Zayn as its cover star. "We went camping for a week in the Angeles Forest -- set up a generator and a tent so we could track in the woods,” he said. “It was the complete opposite of what he’d been doing. We had the gas grill, BB guns, bows and arrows. It was a sh---tin’-in-the-woods-type thing.”
It's been widely assumed that Zayn would release an album that falls further in line with his own musical interests than anything he recorded with One Direction. But while lead singles "Pillowtalk" and "iT's YoU" -- as well as the ten-second snippet of an unnamed song he previewed last month -- are largely R&B-inspired, Zayn remains adamant that the album will defy categorization.
"All the songs are different genres. They don’t really fit a specific type of music. They’re not like, ‘This is funk, this is soul, this is upbeat, this is a dance tune.’ Nothing is like that,” he said in his first post-1D interview with Fader. "I don’t really know what my style is yet. I’m kind of just showing what my influences are.”
So far, so good. “Pillowtalk” earned Zayn his first-ever No. 1 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 — a feat 1D never managed, even at the height of their popularity.
As for the rest of the album, Billboard describes “She” as a “shadowy, au courant R&B track,” while Fader reports that another track called “My Ways” is reportedly written from the perspective of Zayn’s father. The magazine described another song, then called “I Got Mine,” as “an upbeat jam…with freshly recorded trumpets and a beat that’s almost U.K. garage.” Narratively, the song sees Zayn taking on various perspectives.
“There’s so many people in L.A. that have a story to tell, but they never got to tell the story,” Zayn told Fader of the track. “Every line in the pre [-chorus] of that song is a different person’s perspective. So, it’s like, Talk is cheap but we still talk it/ Road is far but we still walk it/ Writing chalks or change the story. At that point, that could be like a teacher writing on the chalkboard, writing a story, but they can change it. Keep it moving when it’s boring. The dustbin man, putting the garbage out, whatever. Thoughts come out just like they’re pouring. An alcoholic guy who’s, like, a super creative dude. It was all different perspectives.”
The Track List
According to the album track list Zayn shared with fans on March 7, tracks "I Got Mine" and "My Ways" were likely renamed — if they made the album at all.
It looks like the rumored collaboration with Kehlani, who nabbed a Best Urban Contemporary Album Grammy nomination this year for You Should Be Here, is official with "Wrong." Lead singles "Pillowtalk" and "It's You" open the album, followed by "the sour synths" (as described in Zayn's January Billboard story) of "BeFour," which we can't help but interpret as One Direction shade — especially given the pointed, dELIA*s-style capitalization he continues to insist on.
The Album Art
Zayn’s album promo has not been without its controversy. Shortly after revealing the album artwork, fans pointed out the similarity between Mind of Mine and Lil Wayne’s 2008 album cover Tha Carter III.
Zayn defended himself on Twitter, insisting he has zero intention of becoming a rapper. Then he took things a step further, silencing naysayers by releasing an explicit “Pillowtalk” remix featuring a new verse from Lil Wayne -- there's clearly no bad blood there.
Mind of Mine drops March 25, and it's available for pre-order on iTunes now.