Zayn had buddied up to Naughty Boy (real name: Shahid Khan) back in March, shortly before the pop idol announced his tear-jerking departure from One Direction. But once the track dropped, Zayn made it clear that "Zaughty" was history and that he just knew Naughty was responsible for the leak by way of a few pointed -- and, frankly, way harsh Tai -- tweets and his subsequent unfollow diss.
Now, Shahid is speaking out about that short-lived friendship he and Zayn had, and although Zayn had blasted him as "pretending" they were best pals, Naughty says it was the realest deal.
Speaking to The Guardian, Naughty Boy said that he and Zayn had a special connection and were "genuinely best friends doing the best friend thing" all the time because of the fact that they both have national origin backgrounds in Pakistan.
"Initially, I think it was because we're both from working-class Pakistani communities and were both thrown into this business," he explained. And while he and Zayn had varying degrees of fame and success in the music biz, he thinks they shared an "understanding that this place isn't real and connecting. Probably it was also a need to make a real friend in this business for both of us. Like someone real, from home."
"I think it was genuinely an exciting time -- for him as well," added Shahid. "I was literally always at his house or here ... Our friendship was genuine, 100%."
And while he's big enough to admit that he has totally missed his old pal, no matter stick-and-stone-like words he used to hurt him, he thinks their falling out was about "external influences" rather than the video leak -- which, BTW, he still swears he did not do and instead blames Krept for Snapchatting the vid.
"That was just him throwing his toys out of the pram," he said about their very public spat. "We fell out over something else." As for exactly what that "something else" was, he's not spilling ... yet. But he did give a small clue by saying, "You have other relationships with lawyers and labels etc. I don't think we actually fell out over the lack of friendship or trust. I think it was external influences."
Note: Not long after this beef was burnt, Zayn signed a record deal with RCA. So, you can probably read between the lines there, right?
Anyway, things aren't going to be patched up between these two any time soon because, according to Naughty Boy, now's just not the time to pick up the phone and make nice. He thinks Zayn's got some work to do first.
"I think Zayn’s incredibly talented and his voice is amazing and the world doesn’t know that yet," he said [insert the evil-eyed ire of a zillion Zayniacs here]. "I think the best thing for him to do now is to go a bit radio silent and let the music do the talking, because then he won’t have to get into Twitter wars with Calvin Harris or me, or whoever."
"There’s no music out there," Shahin explained -- ahem, apart from that leaked little ditty and his acoustic demo track "I Won't Mind." "So, right now he’s just the guy who left One Direction, but I know different because I know him."
As Zayn's own fortune cookie revealed, we'll all know what Naughty Boy says he knows soon enough.