Rating: 4.5/5 stars

One Directioners all around the world were shocked when Zayn Malik left One Direction back in 2015. With his new solo album "Mind of Mine," released exactly one year after he officially left the pop group, it comes as no surprise as to why he chose to part ways with the British group. Not only is he breaking away from the generic boy band sound, but Malik is breaking records while doing it. 

The album title alone explains what Malik is going for: the man has a mind of his own. He has proved that there are no rules this time around now that he has latched off of the group that he initially claimed his fame from. "PILLOWTALK" was the first single released from the album and broke records for reaching the number one spot on the Billboard 200 in its very first week of being released. The catchy and soulful single exudes sex and passion throughout its runtime. Basically, the whole album enters Malik's perceptions of sex and love, and it works.

The falsetto singer/songwriter has found his R&B/Pop sound that One Direction's producers would never allow him to express in the group's records. With influences such as Usher, R. Kelly, Tupac and even Bollywood music, Malik has discovered an entirely new sound that is catchy and appealing. Songs that are soothing to the ear such as "iT's YoU," "rEaR vIeW" and "BLUE" serenade the listener with messages of love and trust. The soul in this entire album is apparent, making this solo album the career move that this artist needed to make. 

A great majority of One Direction fans were pre-teens when the group first rose to international success. Now that these fans are leaving their adolescent years behind, they understand more of the mature, sexual undertones in music and lyrics, and Malik gives them exactly what they have been waiting for. The sexier songs on the album include "dRuNk," "wRoNg," "PILLOWTALK" and "TiO" which stands for "take it off." Malik, quite frankly, doesn't hold back at all with this album but isn't outrageously offensive either. There is a perfect balance of good beats, catchy rhythms and sexy lyrics. Malik pretty much nailed this album release, including a few hints of shade thrown at his former boy band life.

The song "BeFoUr" was indirectly written about the Brit's mindset as an artist before leaving One Direction right after their "Four" tour. The song begins with the words, "I've done this before, not like this," representing him making music previously with One Direction but it wasn't the type of music that he wanted to sell, resulting in the production of "Mind of Mine." Another song that is a clear jab at One Direction is "tRuTh." When he sings, "This ain't my scene/this wasn't my dream/it was all yours," Malik clearly wants people to know that he wasn't the happiest while with the boy band, and that he is now a sexual deviant who just wants to create good music and be loved. Who doesn't want a life that you can dictate on your own?

Also, as you may have noticed, most of the song titles start with a lowercase letter and continue on with alternating capitals. It is still to be determined as to why Malik chose to do this, but one has to wonder if it's him trying to bring AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) lingo back. How else will people know that he's ~oUt To DiNnEr WiTh My LoVe GiGi HaDiD; tExT iT~?

Zayn Malik has finally shown the world why he left One Direction, and we ought to be glad that he did. This album is a surefire way to get in the mood, but also catchy enough for just chilling and "blazing on that new found haze" like Zayn does in the song "lUcOzAdE." "Mind of Mine" successfully showcases Malik's shining talent and recognizes the sweet and sensual aspect of R&B that so many of his fans adore.

Listen to the deluxe version of "Mind of Mine" on Spotify now!