For the past few weeks, everyone has been buzzing about The Weeknd and his mixtape House of Balloons (download here). If you've never heard of Weeknd—or have grown tired of reading endless tweets and Facebook statuses about how amazing House of Balloons is, but haven’t actually heard it, you need not worry. Just like how we gave you the scoop on Skylar Grey, Complex has dug around and put together Who Is The Weeknd? So click ahead to find out everything you need to know about the (possible) new face of R&B music.
Written by Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
Who Is The Weeknd?
The Weeknd is essentially a one-man band comprised of Toronto-based, Canadian singer/songwriter Abel Tesfaye. On "Loft Music" he sings about being 20 years old, so we're gonna go ahead assume he's 20. A few critics have dubbed his particular brand of R&B as "hipster R&B" or "PBR&B" (we can't deny that one made us chuckle), but there has been debate over whether it's a legitimate term.
There’s also been some confusion over whether The Weeknd is a group, with a few media outlets claiming producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo are a part of The Weeknd. Although Tesfaye (who we can only presume runs Weeknd’s Twitter) confirmed Doc McKinney produced a track for him and shouted out Illangelo, he has denied that The Weeknd is a group on more than one occasion.1 However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a crew...
1) There's also some debate as to how much of a "professional" Tesfaye is, just like there was with Frank Ocean. We can't make the call on Tesfaye just yet. But on Doc McKinney's Facebook page, McKinney claims to have worked with Mary J. Blige, Sting, and Dr. Dre.
The XO Crew
House of Balloons
The Weeknd "Wicked Games"
An early candidate for album of the year, House of Balloons is a nine-track mixtape that was released on Weeknd’s website for free on March 20. Weeknd debuted "What You Need" and "Wicked Games" on his Youtube page weeks prior. The record has gotten rave reviews for its dark, atmospheric sounds and its unique mix of R&B, hip-hop, and indie rock elements. Most of the songs are comparable to Drake’s Thank Me Later duet with with The-Dream, “Shut It Down.” The songs play with traditional R&B structure with most of them clocking in at over five minutes. In case you've already heard the mixtape but can't get enough of it, peep this remix of "What You Need" by Odd Future's Mike G.
He Sings About Drugs, A Lot
The Weeknd "House of Balloons - Glass Tables Girls"
And we're not talking your standard "I like to drink and smoke so let's party" kinda records. We mean some of that ol’ Mr. Rager, Weezy F. Baby before prison-type shit. Weeknd sings about weed, liquor, pills, cocaine, and codeine. For proof, peep “House of Balloons - Glass Table Girls” (the second half of the title track) where he sings explicitly about sniffing superstar lines of that white girl. Geez, is this dude really 20? Either way, we really hope he doesn’t let drugs get the best of him like so many artists before him. Problem is, the tagline on his Tumblr page reads, “XO till we overdose.” Um.......
He’s Down With Drake
As you may have noticed, there isn’t that much known about The Weeknd. And that’s no accident. His MO has been to be on every social networking site, but not to reveal basic facts about himself (like his age). In fact, most of the pics on his Tumblr are just those artsy photos of women’s asses1 and distant photos of him that don’t even show his face (you know, like every photo on Tumblr). His official Facebook fanpage had lots of pics of him, but they were later removed. As far as basic facts, we tried calling Weeknd and asking him...but it turns out he’s not doing interviews until May.
1) FYI, just in case you’re wondering whose ass it is in some of those Tumblr photos, it belongs to Sugar Shane Mosley’s main squeeze, video girl Bella Gonzalez.