When Zayn Malik announced his departure from the record-breaking boy band One Direction, no one heard from him for eight months. He kept a low profile, rarely making public appearances or statements to the press. In many ways, he was playing to type. When One Direction was on top of the world, Zayn stayed in the shadows, and was always the mysterious one of the group.

That all changed in February, when his debut solo single "Pillow Talk" topped the Billboard Hot 100. All at once, anyone who questioned whether Zayn could jumpstart a solo career were silenced by the track, and impressed by his feature verse on Chris Brown's "Back to Sleep" remix. Now, Zayn is gearing up for the release of his debut solo album, Mind of Minelater this week. It's all happening.

We wanted to catch him before he blew up, so we sent Complex's Joe La Puma to Los Angeles to meet Zayn at James Goldstein’s mansion. High​ atop the Benedict Canyon, Zayn told us about going solo, Donald Trump, and authenticity in his career. Plus, for the first time, he spoke on his religion and what faith means to him.

Click the link below to read the full cover story, and be sure to buy Complex's April/May 2016 Issue now!