Khalil gave up dreams of shooting hoops like Kobe Bryant to focus on singing in the same vein as Trey Songz. The Def Jam signee’s most noted for his blazing vocal talent as showcased on his single, “Girlfriend Ringtone,” where he belts out heart-throbbing R&B melodies with youthful flair. At the ripe age of 15, Khalil has already reflected on the euphoric yet confusing emotions of a first love and doesn’t hold back, asking an unforgettable girl, “Tell me what it is that I gotta do baby for you to be my girlfriend.” As a former aspiring basketball player, Khalil’s songs possess the spirit of an energetic playground baller combined with the charm of a school boy.
When the crooner isn’t driving tweens wild during a pizza party press appearance, he shoots three-pointers and catches flicks with his friends while bookmarking the next pair of Supras he aims to buy or the sweet rides—like a Lamborghini or four-door Porsche—he wants to command once he turns 18. As one of the promising R&B stars to emerge in recent years, Khalil lets loose about the Chris Brown comparisons, admits if he’s fallen head-over-heels in love yet, and reveals which rapper’s wife he thinks is a superstar.
1. What is your opinion about people saying Def Jam is trying to turn you into the next Chris Brown?
I have a lot of mixed feelings when people say, “Yo, I think you could be the next Chris Brown.” When I started singing, Chris is one of the people that I saw doin’ his thing and think is really dope. I’m just glad they’re not comparing me to someone that’s wack. Chris can sing, Chris can dance, and he is a star.
2. You were an avid ball player until you fully immersed yourself in music. If you could be drafted onto any NBA team right now, which would it be and who’s your favorite player?
I definitely have to say the Lakers. I love the L.A. Lakers; they’re my favorite team! And my favorite player would have to be Kobe Bryant.
3. Who’s your favorite female artist?
Beyoncé. I love Beyoncé. I love her charm. She’s a real hard worker and on top of that, she can dance and sing. She’s a superstar.
4. Is there anything you feel you’re missing out on because you’re not going to school with regular teenagers and starting a career at 15?
I actually get that question a lot. I have a tutor who home schools me and that’s fine. But I don’t really feel like I’m missing out. I’m living out my dream. I’ve always wanted to be great and wanted to do whatever it takes. I never really knew if the basketball thing was going to work out but when I got into music, I knew it was something I loved. But I think I’ll definitely miss going to prom.
5. What do you remember most about visiting Def Jam for the first time?
What was going through my head was, “Don’t mess up.” When I flew in and sat in the office, they brought me some Fiji water and there were all these awards hanging around the lobby and the office, which added to the suspense. Basically, just sitting in the office I told myself to do my best and after I thought they liked me I calmed down and my nerves came together.
6. Describe your typical performance preparation.
Well, usually I like to perform on the spot. If somebody asks me to perform, I could easily do it on the spot. That’s not the way I’d rather do it, but I’ve been doing this for a while now and I feel pretty comfortable in the studio scene and performance. There was a time when I just wanted to get in the zone and sit alone and just think backstage because I felt like that’s the way I can prepare myself best for like going to the Grammys.
7. What is your favorite thing to do with your friends?
I’m definitely a video game guy. I like NBA 2K and shooting games like Call of Duty. I also just like to go to the movies or whatever we’re doing, just hanging out with girls and playing basketball.
8. Have you had your first love yet? Is there a girl you write songs about?
Yes, there is one specific girl I actually write songs about. It’s the girl I had my first kiss with. I write a lot of songs about this because when you’re young you have mixed feelings, you have no idea why you’re getting those feelings. So I feel like with youthful love, you don’t really know what it is. It’s crazy.
9. What is your musical goal as a young, rising artist?
My goal is just to make timeless music. There’s a lot of artists like Donny Hathaway [and] Stevie Wonder who I listen to and I want to bring that old-school feeling to my music. I feel like making timeless music, that’s going to set me apart from everybody else.
10. Who’s the first artist on your playlist?
Drake or Rick Ross. I love both of their new albums. My favorite track right now is [Ross’] “Aston Martin Music.” It’s a crazy song with Drake and Chrisette Michele. It’s great.