On my radar for a while but having not yet really jumped in, I finally gave an in-depth listen to The Weeknd this week–and haven’t been able to stop. Much like my perfect mix, this is music.lights.blankets. music. But also so much more.
The Weeknd is this Canadian dude, Abel Tesfaye, who was not even alive in the 80s. Seriously. Born in 1990. Which still seems so odd to me and is just another sign that I must be getting old . . . back on task. While an album has not yet been released, there have been two mixtapes released this year and a third on the way. You can download them for free on the website.
First of all, dude states he was directly influenced by R. Kelly’s “Down Low” to become a musician. This speaks to me on so many levels. Mostly I can relate as I myself am a member of a prominent R. Kelly cover band, Our Kelly, but on a broader level there is really no denying the talent of (pre-Trapped in the Closet) R. Kelly.
The music. The very first track on House of Balloons, “High for This,” pulled me in with its melancholy, not quite surreal, 808 beats much like Kanye did with “808s and Heartbreak.” (That album just means so much to me. Deal with it.) Then you add the vocals, vocals of a type you don’t really encounter being delivered so effectively and deliberately these days. A dream-like, R&B melody built upon beats from the state half between sleep and waking; half between wanting and needing. It’s this feeling I may not be able to put perfectly in words, but that I can perfectly feel. Dark, beautiful music, that almost sparkles. Music you almost don’t want to share with anyone.
I have a love for cheesy pop and hip-hop that I am not afraid to own up to. The Weeknd is not cheesy, but the lyrics echo of the same elements that bring my love for that cheesy pop and hip-hop to fruition. Talk of knocking your boots off, little ladies, bitches, and getting faded make me nod my head rather than chuckle. I feel sad, I feel hopeless, I feel everything!
It’s like this: I’m trapped somewhere with very little light and it’s not cold but certainly not warm. The walls are stone and the only sounds are these faraway beats and haunting voice bouncing off the walls. And instead of feeling cold and empty, I feel almost okay with the darkness. Oh yeah–and there is no ceiling and I can see a pitch black sky with the brightest stars.
While writing reviews may not be my forte (so what if I describe albums what type of place it makes me think of?!), my convictions are strong with this one. If this post at least makes you think, “hmmm maybe that’s worth a listen” then I have done something right. If you still need convincing, check out Justin’s review of House of Balloons. He’s better at this stuff than me. Maybe some day I’ll be able to sync up this device with my brain and pull out the essence of the feeling this band gives me, but today is not the day. Hopefully these words will do those feelings at least half the justice they deserve.
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It came to my attention today that my friend Cass does a “Things I’m Digging” feature on her blog. Guess I must have been influenced by the afternoon I spent reading her blog! Check her stuff out for a great take on wellness, creativity, and self-awareness.