Zayn Malik has made another stop on his "I am officially NOT a member of One Direction" press tour. By that I mean, he's just collaborated on the remix for Chris Brown's pretty explicit song "Back To Sleep" with Usher — or, as the explicit title goes, "F*ck You Back To Sleep." OK, we get it Zayn. You're not with the (boy) band One Direction anymore. And while I'm loving watching him grow up and form into his own self-actualized artist, it's disconcerting to me that — out of all the possible R&B artists he could have collaborated with — he chose Chris Brown.
Not that I don't get it. Malik clearly wants to separate himself from his "that's what makes you beautiful" past and cultivate a clear R&B image for himself — and singing alongside someone like Brown, who is very established as an R&B singer, is going to do it. But, despite Brown's talents as a performer, I can't help but be disappointed that Malik would lend his vocals to a track from an artist who was convicted of domestic assault against Rihanna in 2009, as well arrested for other reasons numerous times since. (Malik's reps did not immediately respond to Bustle's request for comment.)
Don't get me wrong, I realize it's not fair to hold Malik up to some impossible standard — and I know that he's certainly not the only artist that has collaborated with Brown recently (Zendaya, for instance, Brown on a track of hers earlier this month). Plus, in the track, it's clear everyone involved is talented: Brown's vocals are on point, Usher drops in to lend his voice, and Zayn's chorus really takes it over the edge. The three of them together — musically speaking — work harmoniously.
But that doesn't discount the disappointment. I feel like Malik could have easily made this same career move — a declaration that he's now an R&B singer, no longer that teeny-bopper pop star we met on The X Factor as part of One Direction all those years ago — by working with a different artist.
But, it's clear the collaboration seems all part of a bigger plan, and pretty transparently so. Following on the heel's of the buzz surround Malik's risqué debut song "Pillowtalk," his verse on "F*ck You Back To Sleep" is exponentially racier. Though the most explicit lyrics aren't in Malik's verse, some are — and if you take one listen to this song, you'll quickly realize the intent: he wants us to know he has sex. Again.
Baby just stay comfortable, I want you as you areBaby just lay there naked waiting for meLet's not get emotional, let's be who we areCan we do that? Can we do that? Can we?
Like "Pillowtalk," Malik hits the ground running with suggestiveness. "Baby just lay there naked waiting for me" would never find itself in a 1D song, but in case you forgot, this is Zayn 2.0. Oh! Look. Here he is to remind you:
Know it’s been a long dayIt’s about to be a long night
Do we think this means that he and his lady friend are going to stay up all night discussing mathematical theorems? Ooh! Or marathoning 30 Rock? No?
So keep your eyes closed 'till I roll throughSo baby when you’re feeling like a women in the sheetsSomebody splitting your kneesDon’t worry that’s me
OK yeah. It's pretty, irrefutably clear. Zayn Malik is NOT a virgin.
I’m over here putting work inBaby you ain’t gotta tell me what you want
A hard working, not virgin.
In all seriousness, sorry to be hard on you Zayn. While it makes me semi-squeamish to hear you talk about these things — I'm still getting used to it — I see and respect your hustle. But, again, just going to put this one out there: Considering your fanbase is comprised of mostly females, it would be cool of you to consider the artists you choose to sit alongside with. You have the enviable opportunity to start new here. Use that wisely.
Listen to the track below.