One of the most anticipated releases of the year drops tomorrow. However, the most perplexing part is that a better part of the world more than likely has no idea the hype the po-faced nappy headed visage that will no doubt be a major part of music for some time.
The Weeknd (real name––Abel Tesafaye) has mostly stayed behind the curtain for the first year of his controlled, whirl-winded rise to popularity. Besides the three mixtapes that his new album Trilogy anthologizes, Weeknd has mostly played the background for the better part of his rookie year. He stole the show on Drake’s sophomore album Take Care, and other than a star making stint at Bonarroo last summer, has only played spot intimate dates on tour. To put it simply, Weeknd has been a ghost. So why does he have the internet going crazy to the point where they are going to pay ten dollars for a mixtape they already own for free?
It’s simple, and to be honest it shouldn’t even work. The power of anonymity has effectively allowed Weeknd to gain a fanbase that would otherwise be trying to pick apart anything that he may lack in character. He was the object of a early 2012 bidding war that saw him finally sign to Universal without doing a single lick of press…or even dropping a video.
Unlike his other Canadian born peer Drake, Weeknd puts nothing out about himself (other than his penchant for drugs and loose women, but more on that in a second). He releases music sporadically and then disappears. He gives his fans a steady stream of content––and then nothing but cryptic tweets on his twitter account or a random drop of content on his official Youtube page (yet another genius move; don’t release mp3′s but instead have people find your no doubt monetized Youtube account).
If you listen to his music, his penchant for privacy and secrecy makes a lot of sense. Weeknd has a brand of R&B that has equal parts of crooning and self-depreciating emo music, and in it’s depictions of self guilt Weeknd has found an outlet where you check his voice instead of his face. It’s the faceless act of autonomy that actually strengthens his music. He doesn’t beg for love from women — he commands it, and most listeners will be none the wiser because of the way he delivers his message.
Excess is also the name of the game as Weeknd makes no qualms about drug and alcohol abuse, and a fatalistic view of the reality of his upcoming fame. It’s rebellious, completely flying in the face of traditional R&B which is stuck in an odd and ultimately schizophrenic growth period where most singers are trying to be rappers or backup singers for David Guetta.
As far as Trilogy goes, it’s a technical marvel. For the uninitiated, its a complete re-release of his three critically acclaimed mixtapes, which we can now officially say were advanced versions of this album (technically his debut). Re-mastered with added sounds and a more full mix, Trilogy is the fully realized ending to the Weeknd’s master plan.
House Of Balloons, his first and most well-known release, is the clear winner of the mixes. Songs like “Coming Down” and the title track have been given a new life. Other than some questionable changes to certain tracks from his other releases, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, everything is pretty much intact. Joining the original 27 tracks are three bonus tracks that act as footnotes to the originals, the strongest of them being “Twenty Eight” which will quickly become the winter 2012 lonely anthem.
Time will tell if the Weeknd’s struggle to stay behind the shadows will work. His first two videos for “Rolling Stone” and “The Zone” are already as jarring and confusing as seeing Bigfoot on the television screen, his omnipresence has but for the time being he has the music to back up the hype in Trilogy and that is the desired end result of his marketing.
Final Score – 8.5/10