While we can take a gander at the subject material he’ll tackle on his big solo debut — maybe a breakup tune addressing his shocking split from fiancée Perrie Edwards? — one thing we’re especially looking forward to is finding out if Z has any collaborations lined up.
We can only imagine it must be difficult from working with four other guys to being all by yourself, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising to see Zayn linking up with another artist or two to keep those collaborative juices flowing. And if the 22-year-old’s recent Twitter activity is any indication, he’s eyeing some hip hop heavyweights for inspiration.
We’ve already pointed out that Zayn’s forthcoming solo music will likely lean in a more R&B-focused direction — which was all but confirmed with the news that he’s been recording with Frank Ocean producer Malay, AND by the slew of artists he’s recently followed on Twitter.
Here’s a breakdown of all Z’s recent follows, divided into a few key categories:
The Rising Stars
There’s also J. Cole, whom Zayn has long been a fan of — check out this throwback 1D interview where he admits the celeb he’d most like to meet is Cole.
In fact, fans on Tumblr are so into the idea of a Zayn/Weeknd collab that they’re already dubbed the duo Zeeknd.
Intriguingly, he also followed 50 Cent, who told us earlier this year that he sees potential in Zayn as a solo artist. “I’d happily sign him up to my label, mentor him and have him working with the biggest rappers on the planet,” 50 told us.
Hmm… maybe that’s one step closer to happening now?
The OVO Crew
Drake’s October’s Very Own record label got a recent “follow” from Zayn, as did one of its signees, enigmatic rapper PartyNextDoor, and one of its co-founders and in-house producers, Noah “40” Shebib, who’s worked with artists like Drake, Beyonce, and Lil Wayne.
Zayn has a well-documented love and appreciation for Drake, so it only makes sense that he’d look to his crew for inspiration.
Lastly, there are a few confusing but potentially significant celebs who’ve gotten Twitter love from Zayn, including comedians/actors Chris Tucker and Chris Rock. We can’t imagine that’s anything collaboration-related (unless Z’s decided to pepper his album with stand-up material?), but there ARE a couple more “follows” we have questions about: Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani.
Sure, Zayn and Gwen are now both newly single, but we hardly think that’s the motivation behind their new Twitter friendship. While the No Doubt frontwoman isn’t traditionally considered a player in the hip hop world, it’s worth pointing out that her sound’s been shifting lately. She recently teamed up with Eminem on “Kings Never Die” from the “Southpaw” soundtrack, and she also featured on Snoop Dogg’s “Run Away” earlier this year.
Plus, her most recent single, “Spark the Fire,” was produced by none other than her “The Voice” co-judge Pharrell. That connection could be how Pharrell ties into Zayn’s pseudo inspiration board of Twitter follows, but we’re thinking it’s the producer’s “jack of all trades” reputation that probably makes him a dream collab for Z.
So what have we learned from picking apart Zayn’s recent Twitter activity? Nothing’s confirmed yet, but we definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see him taking notes — and possibly numbers — from this intriguing crop of artists. Clearly, Z’s personal music taste is far removed from 1D’s pop rock roots, and it looks like he’ll be exploring his own interests more when it comes to showing the world what he considers “real” music.