Almost two years later and I still play this album daily.
I'm a lover of music. Recently, I had to buy a 128gb iPod just so I can hold all of the music I have on one iPod. So for me to say that I listen to an album that came out almost two years ago DAILY? It's an iconic one. I'm a little biased, because I do love Zayn himself, but I think my bias lets me make an accurate, thoughtful review of his incredibly personal debut album since I know a little about what he's writing and singing about. Coming from a working class British-Pakistani family and growing up as a fan of his dad's taste in music (old 90s rnb, hip hop, etc.), it's no surprise to me that Zayn never felt represented in the pop group he used to be in (let's not forget to also take into account all the racism, islamophobia, etc., of course). But there was also the aspect wherein Zayn was never allowed the same creative freedoms that others had, which was made obvious by how his input in the sound and also the lyrics of the group's songs was never considered. We can see how his old group's management cared more about supporting the others than him by the INCREDIBLE demo he wrote for the group that never got made: I Won't Mind; ask any fan of Zayn their thoughts on I Won't Mind and you'll get a positive, almost dramatically emotional response to it ("don't look around / 'cause love is blind / and darling right now I can't see you" is a lyric that gets me choked up to this very day). Zayn's lyrics are incredibly overlooked, because people would rather focus on anything other than how incredibly talented Zayn is, so let me go ahead and state point blank that Zayn has the best lyrics out of anyone from the group he used to be in. The lyrics on this album alone—which are personal, honest and, above all else, VULNERABLE—show that Zayn values sincerity and music that actually means something to the artist that writes it. And that aspect of the album puts the incredible display of vocal versatility and the ingenious genre mixing on the back burner for me, because when I come back to the album each day, it's to listen to the lyrics and be alone with myself and Zayn's personal thoughts. Mind of Mine is aptly named, because when you listen to what Zayn sings about (specifically in rEaR vIeW, tRuTh, lUcOzAde, SHE DON'T LOVE ME, and INTERMISSION: FLOWER—which is sung in Urdu, a song specifically written by Zayn for his father) you actually learn about him. You connect with him. This isn't an album put out to make money. It's an album to vent. It's an album that breathes for all the times Zayn couldn't while in the group that all but put tape over his mouth. It's an album to show who Zayn really is. It's to, as the intro song MiNd Of MiNdd states, open everyone up to what's inside of his mind. To be as authentic and vulnerable as a person can be (and considering how Zayn is often vilainized due to racism, classism, and islamophobia, it's almost an act of defiance by being so candid about who Zayn REALLY is despite what the media tries to spin). And THAT is why I listen to it every day. The full, velvety vocals and daring plays on multiple different genres in one album are just a pretty bonus.