"I guess I never explained why I left , it was for this moment to be given the opportunity to show you who i really am! #realmusic #RCA !!" the English singer wrote on Twitter today. He also tweeted a photo of himself signing a contract, announcing his decision to team up with RCA Records.
"#REALME," he wrote on Twitter after sharing his new venture with his 15.1 million followers.
Simon Cowell also congratulated his protegee on the big solo move, tweeting, "We have been working on this for a while and I am pleased to say congratulations to @Zaynmalik on signing with @RCARecords. I believe they are the perfect label for @ZaynMalik's solo career and I am sure whatever they release together will be special."
In a statement released in March, Malik sang a very different tune when it came to parting ways with former bandmates Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne. "I'd like to apologize to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight," he said at the time.
Prior to his departure, he had taken a hiatus from the band's tour, citing stress, amid rumors he had cheated on Perrie Edwards, his fiancée since 2013. He later tweeted, "I'm 22 years old... I love a girl named Perrie Edwards...And there's a lot of jealous f--ks in this world I'm sorry for what it looks like x."
Shortly after his exit, Malik was spotted hanging out with producer Naughty Boy in the studio, sparking speculation—which was later confirmed—that he's launching a solo career.
No word yet what the remaining 1D members, whom Zayn previously called his "four friends for life," think of Malik's bold move, but we're willing to bet they're a bit taken aback.
"Sometimes you have to move on because you're not enjoying what you're doing as much as you used to," Payne said in May when asked why Zayn left the band. "He wanted to spend time with his family and his missus. That's cool with us."
Meanwhile, the band, which has continued on as a four-piece, kicked off the North American leg of its On the Road Again world tour earlier this month in San Diego, Calif., marking 1D's first American concert since Zayn left.
"We're currently recording and writing our next album, so we'll be working on that," Styles recently told Entertainment Weekly of the group's musical future. "The songs are coming together quickly, so we're buzzing with the new stuff. It carries a slightly new identity, but I think it's an obvious change from [Four] in a positive way. We've branched out and worked with different writers, and we've got some great songs!"
One Direction is next scheduled to perform on Friday in Indianapolis.