Zayn Malik is serving stylish looks and a pensive stare on the cover of VMANMagazine. After a grungy shoot for Clash and a “gender-bending” appearance with his supermodel girlfriend Gigi Hadid on Vogue earlier this summer, this is easily the most high fashion appearance he’s delivered in months. In the pages of the magazine, the Brit smolders in a variety of neutral looks, showcasing oversized jackets paired with sleek streetwear. In the accompanying interview, he talked about his personal growth between projects while hinting at the direction his sound will take on an upcoming LP tentatively dropping later this year.
The former boy bander is hard at work on the follow up to his 2016 debut Mind of Mine, which yielded his first chart topping single “Pillowtalk” and offered him the freedom to explore new sonic directions after years working with One Direction. Though the release was heralded as a sexual awakening and drew sonic comparisons to The Weeknd, for Zayn the album represented his first time truly taking control of a project. Recognizing the album as a learning process, he explained that it helped him grow artistically and personally. “I think it was a natural growth as a human being and as a person. I feel like I’m still growing every day, as everybody is. I don’t know everything and I’m willing to learn, so I believe everything is a natural progression.”
The new project is set to follow a similar path as his debut, though he feels that his skills as a writer have developed dramatically between the two projects. The 24-year-old is back at work with Malay, who produced multiple cuts on Mind of Mine and is the mastermind behind Frank Ocean’s moody R&B sound. He’s optimistic about their projects together, and said that it’s some of his best work to date. “I feel like they’re real songs. And I don’t mean to say that to discredit the songs that are out on the charts at the moment. I just feel like there’s something really classic about some of the music that we’ve done together, and for that reason, I’m really proud of some of the songs that are going to come out. I feel like it really shows me as a songwriter and a vocalist.”
Sonically, the currently untitled album will revisit the downtempo pop and R&B he has previously explored, but it may also incorporate more hip hop elements. He alluded to a series of mysterious collaborations that imply that a handful of rappers may be featured on the album. Though there has been no confirmation, everyone from Nicki Minaj to PARTYNEXTDOOR are rumored to have contributed a verse or two. While he’s exploring new territories, one area that he will continue to pull inspiration from is his roots. On his debut, he sang in Urdu, his Pakistani father’s language, on a track, and he said he has plans to continue interpolating the influences into his upcoming releases.
This article was originally published by: Idolator