Nabil for COMPLEX

Four days before Zayn Malik unveils his debut solo album, Mind of MineComplex released its cover Q&A, featuring a lengthy conversation between Joe LaPuma and the former One Direction star. The fascinating chat includes Zayn's thoughts on leaving boy band superstardom, his responsibility as an outspoken Muslim, his private relationship with Gigi Hadid and his post-Mind of Mine plans. All in all, it's a must-read.

Check out Complex's full cover story, and the five points that jumped out to us below:

1. Zayn wasn't allowed to have a beard in One Direction

"There were certain restrictions in terms of the way that we could come outside of that young teen boy look," he says. When asked specifically what he means, Zayn responds, "Mainly my beard, honestly. I wasn’t allowed to keep it. Eventually, when I got older, I rebelled against it, and decided to keep it anyway. That was just because I looked older than the rest of them. That’s one of the things that is now quite cool. I get to keep my beard. I also wanted to dye my hair when I was in the band, but I wasn’t allowed to."

2. Zayn was always hard to define, even as a little kid

"There are people who fit into certain stereotypes; I never fit into them," he says. "I remember once, when I was younger, in drama class, an assignment where everybody had to do an impersonation of somebody else in the class. Everyone did an impersonation, but nobody could do an impersonation of me."

3. A key scene in the "PillowTalk" video was a candid moment

A shot of the singer and Gigi Hadid smiling at each other was filmed without their knowledge, but made the final cut. "To be honest, the reason it was used was because we were just messing around," Zayn professes. "It wasn’t even, like, part of the shoot. You know when they say, 'action'? They didn’t do that. It was just rolling."

4. Tupac changed his life

When asked to pick an album that had the biggest impact on him, Zayn chooses All Eyez on Me. "The songs are so real, and from a perspective of a place where somebody is not afraid to be completely 100 percent honest," he says. "He’s the first rapper to talk about the fact that his mom was a crack addict. For me, that’s courageous as fuck."

5. He wants to go to college

"I want to go to school. I’d love to get a degree in English, or literature," Zayn says. "I’ve always wanted to get my degree eventually. I want to do that, and hopefully write my next record while I’m doing it."