Brand Activations: How Khalid Celebrated His 21st Birthday

Rich Fury / Getty Images for MAC Presents

Khalid engages with a game at his 21st birthday celebration.

Khalid racked up more career milestones in his teenage years than most artists achieve in their lifetimes, including five Grammy nominations and multiple sold-out headline tours. 

So how did the pop star celebrate his 21st birthday during Grammy week? By inviting 500 of his closest friends, family members and colleagues from RCA Records and Cara Lewis Group to a lavish, activity-filled bash in a three-story mansion in the Hollywood Hills. The celebration was sponsored by Ubisoft, HyperX, Chili’s, BMW, Fiji, Ghost of The Gram and LiveMe, and was produced by music experiential agency MAC Presents and Khalid’s management firm Right Hand Music Group.

Rich Fury, Getty Images for MAC Presents

HyperX honors Khalid on his 21st birthday.

Khalid’s Feb. 11 birthday has often fallen on or around the Grammys, and in previous years it coincided with the singer’s first L.A. headlining show (The Roxy, 2017) and an intimate, star-studded New York celebration of his five Grammy nominations (Soho House, 2018). But to set a different tone for Khalid’s new milestone of adulthood and to build anticipation for his highly anticipated sophomore album Free Spirit, due April 5, this year’s event had the look and feel of a movie premiere or a blockbuster brand launch – far from the typical 21st birthday fête.

Throughout the space, the event had a retro-futuristic aesthetic inspired by vaporwave ‘80s and ‘90s art culture and Japanese anime. A video game room showcased interactive dance favorites like “Just Dance” from Ubisoft and previewed the publisher’s upcoming title “Far Cry New Dawn,” while HyperX kept guests entertained with cutting-edge gaming headsets and keyboards.

“HyperX is thrilled to have helped Khalid’s birthday wishes come true by bringing a full gaming experience to life for guests at his 21st birthday party,” said Stephanie Winkler, strategic marketing supervisor at HyperX. “As the landscape of gaming, music, and entertainment continue to rapidly collide, HyperX will continue to craft unique interactive gaming experiences in innovative environments, such as the gaming experience at Khalid’s party, to showcase the ‘We’re All Gamers’ message to all.”

Rich Fury, Getty Images for MAC Presents

Singer Normani appears with Khalid at his 21st birthday party.

And it wouldn’t have been a 21st birthday without special gifts: RCA presented Khalid with a new Rolex and manager Courtney Stewart of Right Hand Music Group surprised Khalid with a 2019 Can-Am Ryker three-wheeler.

“Happy to have been able to celebrate such a milestone year with such an incredible individual,” Stewart said. “Watching Khalid grow not only as an amazing artist but as a well-rounded individual has motivated me in many different ways. Even with accomplishing so much in such a short period of time, Khalid continues to work extremely hard to be an even better person than he was yesterday. If there’s anyone who deserves a truly special day, it should be Khalid.” 

Khalid, who recently gave a keynote Q&A at the 2019 Pollstar Live! conference, just announced he will release his sophomore album Free Spirit on April 5 and accompany it with a short film of the same name that will be shown in select movie theaters worldwide April 3. The singer will hit the road again this summer on his first headlining arena tour, which will hit 35 cities in North America before traveling to Europe and Australia.

Andrew Hampp is a music marketing consultant and founder of 1803 LLC, based in Berkeley, Calif. He previously worked for Mac Presents.