Since 2010 when an unknown individual anonymously uploaded his mixtape on YouTube, Abél Tesfaye aka The Weeknd had a fan base that was intoxicated with his falsetto voice and gritty lyrics. Fast forward to 2016 and he has become a household name with his last album Beauty Behind the Madness getting rave reviews. This is quite an achievement not because he lacks talent but because he knowingly does not conform to what radio and TV expect their RnB artist to be. The lyrical content and subject matter should not be so pop-friendly but with his amazing vocals and introspective beats, his audience was hooked. He was different and he created a whole new lane in the music industry. The RnB and the pop world have never seen an artist like this; his smooth voice would not appear the ideal combination for the lustful, dark, twisted and raunchy lyrics but it the effect is hypnotic. He pulls you into his world where the women are beautiful, single minded, conniving and deceitful. The alcohol overflows and the drugs never run out. The songs are not so much about love and more about lustful obsession, regret and the trappings of fame. The Weeknd whines about girls that are clingy and also mourns after the ones that do not want to be tied down. He is the victim of their pretense but he secretly loves it at the same time.
I have been a fan of the music and the persona (the epic dreadlocks) since day one but since The Weeknd went mainstream I was afraid he would “sellout”. He cut his hair before the release of his latest project and I was left wondering if he had lost what made him special (just like Samson). Would he sacrifice his creativity in order to maintain his pop star status? In hindsight, we shouldn’t have been worried at all because The Weeknd’s latest offering called Starboy is the best album of 2016. It is an 18 track mission statement proclaiming that he is at the top of his game. From the 1st single called Starboy (produced by Daft Punk), The Weeknd lets us know who runs things with lyrics like “None of these toys on lease too, ah / Made your whole year in a week too, yeah / Main bitch out of your league too, ah / Side bitch out of your league too, ah “and “we don’t pray for love; we just pray for cars”
In Party Monster we get bitter lines like “I’m like, got up, thank the Lord for the day / Woke up by a girl, I don’t even know her name”. His vocals ride the flawless melody of the chorus and in the 2nd single False Alarm he says “She always leaves the man she loves / But the diamonds are forever / She always seems to be alone / But the diamonds make it better”. Every song is quite simply amazing and none more so than Reminder where his regret is that his fame has come at a price but he won’t change his ways either. He sings “Said I’m just tryna swim in something wetter than the ocean / Faded off a double cup, I’m mixing up the potion / All I wanna do is make that money and make dope shit / It just seem like niggas tryna sound like all my old shit”
In True Colours, he’s almost begging his lover to be open and keep it real with him. His voice will forever draw comparisons with the late, great Michael Jackson; an undeniable factor in his rise to fame but that is where the similarities end. MJ never had songs with lyrics like “She lick it up just like a candy / she wanna make them leave their family”
The album includes features from Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar (who kills yet another track), Future, Cashmere Cat and Lana Del Rey. Showing that Abel is no one-trick pony and is able to switch flows at the drop of a hat. Right now he is definitely the go-to guy for the RnB hook on a trap beat.
Needless to say this album is on constant rotation for the foreseeable future and I think we can crown The Weeknd the new King of RnB.
Album score: 9/10
By: Ola- Oluwa Osidele