“You know I used to be in 1D (now I’m out free).”

Liam Payne just wants to get rowdy.

Payne was the only remaining member from One Direction to release solo material, but that’s all changed with his new tune hip-hop-inspired new tune “Strip That Down” featuring Quavo.

The song is a celebration of sorts. Payne turned to Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac for the track – together, they helped the budding pop star express his musical independence from the band: “You know I used to be in 1D (now I’m out free),” he sings. “People want me for one thing (that’s not me).”

Liam knew that line would cause a stir. “We were very worried about this line. I never wanted it to be taken in a negative light. I think it’s a very positive one,” he said in a recent interview. “I don’t think it’s a case of ‘now we’re moving on’ sort of thing. It’s more so the freedom to write the music you want to write, and I think that’s what this hiatus is for everybody. They get to explore the music they want to do. Harry’s out doing exactly what he wanted to do, Niall’s out doing the singer-songwriter-y stuff that he wanted to do as well. Louis has been amazing, going out and done a thing with Steve Aoki. And obviously Zayn, early doors, went out and did Pillow Talk. So, we’re all free to go out and do our own business.“

The track lives up to its name – the production is stripped down to a plunky hip-hop beat and twinkly production tricks. One thing’s for sure – it’s nothing like his musical peer Harry Styles. Payne said in an interview this week his new music is nothing like “Sign of the Times.”

“It’s not something I’d listen to, but I think he did a great job of doing what he wanted to do,” he told Music Choice of Styles’ debut single. “That’s the way I’d put it best, I think. The funny thing is, [Harry] would say the same thing about me because he doesn’t really listen to hip-hop music, whereas it’s like my song’s more [Tyga’s] ‘Rack City’ and his song is more of a different era to something I’d listen to, I guess.”

You be the judge. Listen to “Strip That Down” below then see that cringey interview answer after that:

Thoughts on Liam’s debut single? Let us know in Exhale.

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