Abel Tesfaye took the world by storm after dropping out of high school at 17 and anonymously posting his debut songs, Loft Music, What You Need, and The Morning to SoundCloud under the pseudonym “The Weeknd”.
Since then, he was discovered by Drake and has released three mixtapes and more recently released Starboy, his fourth album. His previous album, The Beauty Behind the Madness, was most streamed album on Spotify in one year, attracting more than 60 million listeners. Can’t Feel My Face, one of the leading tracks, had over 448 million streams by January 13, 2016.
The Weeknd returns a year after his hit album The Beauty Behind the Madness with an 18 track album entitled Starboy. Already the most streamed album on Spotify in a day, Starboy has surged to the top of the charts with over 223 million plays. The album features artists Daft Punk, Future, Lana Del Rey, and critically acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar. Singles off the album were the title track Starboy featuring Daft Punk, and I Feel It Coming also featuring Daft Punk.
The album responds to the fame The Weeknd has acquired and the desensitizing of his lyrics to the public. In the song, Reminder, The Weeknd sings, “I just won a new award for a kids show ‘bout a face coming off a bag of blow,”, referencing the fame he received from the hit single Can’t Feel My Face which is about cocaine usage, and how widespread his music has grown. In his Starboy music video, he murders his old self with his trademark tarantula hair, a symbol he has used throughout many of his music videos to show that the “old Weeknd” is gone. The fame has changed him and he’s reinvented himself.
This album itself embodies a different sound than fans are used to hearing from The Weeknd. Although the meaning of the lyrics and the lyrics itself are singing about things he’s been singing about for years: women, drugs, and sex. However, the beats and overall sound of his music now has more of an upbeat feeling. As the Weeknd said on Twitter, “this [album] will feel aggressive and warm.” Whereas his previous music had sadder lyrics and slower beats, this album has more of pop-R&B upbeat vibes. He sings, “Homeless to Forbes List, these ****** bring no stress, I feel like Moses, I feel like I’m chosen.”
So far fans and listeners alike love the album. Student Dom Martinez believes the album to be in the top 3 of the year. The production on the album is a step up from before. Four songs were produced by DJ Cashmere Cat, known for his work with Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, and Kanye West.
It’s good to know that artists still care about the production quality on albums. The quality is on par with Drake’s latest album Views, in which Drake’s real instrumental sounds were used instead of using synthetic ones, allowing him to get just the right kick or snare that can’t normally be reproduced artificially.