At the same time, the album touches on quite a few rap album tropes at each end, with the title track–a piano ballad with a reverb-drenched vocal–acting as a fly-in introduction and a warm welcome to Malik’s mind. The latter half even features a song with no hook called “Lucozade”, a set of stream-of consciousness verses that find him sipping pink and blazing haze; it’s something that could easily pass for a joint from Zayn’s hypothetical Gangsta Grillz mixtape.
Nods to some of modern-day R&B’s darlings also abound on Mind Of Mine, with Zayn deftly switching between the solemn contemplation of Frank Ocean (“It’s You, “Befour”, both produced by Channel Orange mastermind Malay), Weeknd’s earnest dedication to airing his flaws (“Wrong”, “She Don’t Love Me”), the effortless cool of Miguel (“Truth”) and even the consistently crass illustrations of artists like Chris Brown (“TIO”). The sole feature on the album, Oakland California’s Kehlani, lives up to her reputation as one of the realest R&B singers on the come-up on “Wrong” – her desperate urging that she’s “a problem with problems” is about as raw as it gets in the mainstream pop game.
The album is naturally not without its radio moments, with the perpetually pleasing single “Pillow Talk” sitting pretty at the top of the track list, and acting as our entry-point to the rest of the record. Tucked away in the bonus tracks is the rubbery and rowdy “Like I Would”, where Zayn finds himself briefly possessed by the jealous-ex archetype that Drake has perfected so spectacularly.