Zayn Malik: The Full Profile

You have definitely heard of Zayn Malik because he was in one of the most popular boy bands that have ever existed called One Direction. Although Malik has since departed from One Direction and the group went on indefinite hiatus, he has made a career that has allowed him to have staying power. Before Malik saw fame, he came from a modest home in Bradford West Yorkshire, England. 

The Early Years

Zayn Javadd Malik was born on January 12, 1993, in Bradford, West Yorkshire England. His father, Yaser Malik is a Pakistani from England and his mother Tricia Brannon Malik is of English and Irish descent. Zayn and his three sisters were raised in a Muslim household growing up.  Malik has described his upbringing as very religious and he no longer subscribes to the Muslim faith. Growing up Malik and his family lived in a working-class neighborhood.  Malik has stated in interviews that he started taking pride in his appearance and heritage while attending public school at age 12. As he grew, he developed the confidence to pursue performing arts. Once he got a taste of being an entertainer, he knew that performing was the route he wanted to take professionally.  He credits his father’s taste in urban and R&B records as what inspired him to eventually pursue music. Before he decided to be a musician, he took up boxing for two years and dabbled in the idea of becoming an English teacher. 


In 2010, Malik decided to audition for the popular hit music competition show, X-Factor. Malik has stated that on the morning of the audition, he began to feel cold feet and didn’t want to attend the audition.  His mother luckily spoke some sense into the young singer and he eventually decided to take the plunge. For the audition, he sang “Let Me Love You” by Mario and the judges liked him so much, they allowed him to advance to the next round. Malik was eliminated before the final round of the competition. However, the judges saw potential in Malik and Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson working together and they formed the band One Direction.  The group then rose to popularity in the UK and ask a result, Simon Cowell signed the group to his label Syco Records. The boys also got a contract in the United States with Colombia records. 

One Direction

The group released their first officially licensed book, “One Direction: Forever Young (Our Offical X Factor Story) in February 2011 which proceeded to top The Sunday Times’ Best Seller List. The same month the boy band performed at the X Factor Live tour for half a million people. “Up All Night” the band’s debut album was released the fall of that same year to critical acclaim and it was almost as if the boys blew up overnight.  Their first album was released in the United States that next year, but word got across the pond to Americans and the boys were a worldwide success. 

Four and Zayn’s Departure from One Direction

In November of 2014, the group was still going strong and released their fourth studio album Four to immediate critical acclaim. In fact, the album was their fourth release that peaked at number one. The singles “Steal My Girl” and “Night Changes” both went platinum. Regardless of the success, the band was experiencing, the members started to grow apart.  Malik in particular cited that he just wanted to have the normal life of a 22-year old instead of being constantly on tour. He also stated that he just wanted to experience more private time away from his adoring fans because it was starting to be emotionally draining. The rest of the band followed suit shortly after and went on indefinite hiatus. 

The Beginnings of His Solo Career

Considering it was a high-profile split, media speculation began to surface the boys were having problems with each other which was the reason for Malik to leave the band. Malik went on the record and told the world that he and the rest of the band weren’t at odds. They had in fact not only been supportive of his decision to leave the band, but he remained friendly with all of them and there was no bad blood between anyone.  Malik didn’t take much time off from recording. It seems as if, once he was done with One Direction, he began recording new music pretty quickly. He started working with Naughty Boy and they released a song on SoundCloud entitled “I won’t mind.” After working with Naughty on a few SoundCloud tracks, record labels began to notice the traffic he was bringing into the service. In July 2015, Malik signed a record contract with RCA records.  The singer gave interviews shortly after the announcement alluding to the details of his debut album. He gave away the tracklist and said that the album covers experiences the singer has had over the last few years. 

Mind of Mine

Zayn’s debut album Mind of Mine featured the single Pillow Talk. The song had R&B influences and really showcased the singer’s ability to be diverse in the music industry. In the past, One Direction seemed like an overly manufactured group for children. Malik was given the freedom to discuss deeper issues that are going on in his life and produce art that he was truly proud of. The album was released in March of 2016 and generally had positive reviews from critics. Some critics even said the departure from his previous musical experience sounded hazy and benefited his voice.  Promotional efforts for Mind of Mine included the singer having an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. If 2016 wasn’t a successful year for Malik already, he did a collaboration with megastar Taylor Swift for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. The song was entitled “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” and peaked at number two on the US charts and number five in the UK charts. 

Second Studio Release

Malik didn’t allow himself to be a one-album solo artist. He began recording after he got off the tour for his second venture. On March 24, 2017, the singer released the song “Still Got Time” which was a collaboration with the artist PartyNextDoor. Later that year, the singer teased that he had a new single on social media. Later he posted the song “Dusk Till Dawn” which was a collaboration with fellow singer and mega-hit writer Sia. The video that was released accompanying the song featured the actress Jemima Kirke and was directed by famed music video director, Marc Webb.  The year 2018 was a big year for Malik, he started self-releasing songs from his new album before his label could announce the album. The two singles he promoted on his social media pages were “Let Me” and “Entertainer.” He kept releasing songs before his second studio album Icarus Falls was released which was available December 14, 2018.  Icarus Falls had a whopping 27 singles which included previous songs that were already available. The album released to generally positive reviews from critics but unfortunately was not as successful as Mind of Mine. It peaked at number 61 in the United States and 77 on the UK Charts.  In 2019, Zayn began recording music with the Indie Rock trio Shaed and they released the song “Trampoline” with Malik doing the vocals. He followed up with another collaboration with the Dutch DJ and producer R3hab and British DJ Jugleboi for the track “Flames.”  Although 2020 pretty much killed the music industry for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic, Zayn has continued to make music. In September of 2020, he released the song “Better.” The song was an announcement that he has an album release in the works. 

The Fashion Industry

Although Zayn is known for his stage presence and voice, music is not the only activity he has dabbled in. In 2016 he made his fashion debut on The Business of Fashion’s annual BoF500 index. This particular outlet doesn’t just profile anyone, it profiles the most influential men in fashion. Considering shoes are one of his major passions, Zayn decided to collaborate the shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti for a line. The shoreline featured four shoe styles which were two boots and two sneakers. In 2017, Malik was featured in a Versace campaign with model Adwoah Aboah.  Zayn is not only a world-famous musician and model, he also does donate to causes that he is passionate about. He became the official ambassador for the British Asian Trust charity group which helped improve the lives of disadvantaged children in South Asia.  He also contributed to the Cosmic Relief fundraising relief in Africa. In March of 2016, he bought a box at Bradford City which is a charitable organization that donates to underprivileged kids and gives them the opportunity to watch football. In May and June of 2020 in the wake of the George Floyd Protests, Zayn became a very public and high-profile supporter of the BLM movement. The singer donated to one of the charitable causes supporting the movement.  Zayn speaks Urdu and can read in Arabic. He even said that prior to pursuing music, he seriously considered becoming an English teacher. Considering he was raised Muslim and happens to be a high profile, he has been targeted in Anti-Muslim attacks. He received death threats from Twitter users after he posted #freepalestine on the platform. Later on in his career, he came out as someone who is a non-practicing Muslim and doesn’t want to be identified as a Muslim due to his upbringing. 

His Love Life

The singer’s love life certainly has been a subject in tabloids. He began dating his now ex-girlfriend Little Mix singer, Perrie Edwards in December of 2011. The two became engaged in the summer of 2013. However, the two called off their whirlwind romance ending their engagement in July of 2015. The breakup wasn’t pretty considering Edwards released a diss track describing the downfall of their romance.  Zayn bounced back from that his failed relationship when he began dating American Supermodel Gigi Hadid. The two met on the set of his music video Pillow Talk. The model was featured as the love interest in the song. Although he is coy about their relationship and tends to want to keep his private life private, he told British Vogue “She’s super-organized and I’m really not. It helps that she can get things together for me a little bit. I lean on her a lot.” The two have had a bit of an on and off again relationship and eventually found their way back to each other.  In September of 2020, Zayn and Hadid welcomed their first child into the world. Zayn posted a picture on his Instagram announcing the birth of him holding his infant’s hand. “Our baby girl is here, healthy and beautiful. To try to put into words how I am feeling right now would be an impossible task. The love I feel for this tiny human is beyond my understanding. Grateful to know her, proud to call her mine, and thankful for the life we will have together,” the caption said.  Although Zayn has come from humble beginnings and certainly has seen his fair share of controversy, the artist seems humble and kind. It is hard not to root for him. He told British Vogue that he is thankful for his experience with One Direction even though it came out in recent years, that he had struggled with an eating disorder and had crippling anxiety while performing with the band.  Even though his relationship with his former bandmates seems frosty, they will always be connected due to that experience. “I’m able to look on it as something that was an amazing experience, which I was never even able to say until just recently,” he said. Why not? “Because of so much other bullshit that was going on.” What bullshit? “Just bullshit. I think back to the performances towards the end when we were in stadiums, I wasn’t really ever able to enjoy the experience. The machine had gone too fast.” He then went on to say, “I feel like I’m in a good place,” he told the magazine, “like I’ve grown up. My energy tank is definitely slowing down a little bit.” So where does Zayn go from here? After a brief separation from his partner – Gigi Hadid – Zayn has reconciled and sold off his one-time bachelor pad. Zayn needed to split from One Direction to find his own direction, and chances are that won’t be the only evolution we see over the course of his career. But we can look forward to a maturation of what he’s already built on as his attentions turn to the needs of raising a family. Sources:

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