“Drugs started feeling like it’s decaf…”
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it… unless, of course, that “fix” winds up being an upgrade that offers more progression than a complete facelift. The Weeknd is an example of this. Four years ago, the Toronto-raised crooner was perfecting the dark, sullen, and drugged-out sounds of his very own alt-R&B — thanks to the stellar foundations laid on genre-defining works like House of Balloons and so on (Thursday, Echos of Silence, Trilogy).
But now, the dark and intense echoes have transformed into a euphoric haze, splashed with a gloss of pop. “The pop-star life is a new challenge,” the singer tells Billboard in a brand new cover story this week. After spending years in rare terrain as the dark prince of R&B, the dreadlocked sensation has since stepped out the shadows and into the light, ultimately preparing a run as pop's next virtuoso.
It's a transformation that's been waiting to happen since the alt-R&B cult hero read the lyrics to Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana. "I got emotional — it's when I first knew I wanted to write song," he reveals in the issue. Of course, that moment would give us "D.D." on _Trilogy _and now, the hotly-anticipated Beauty Behind the Madness, Weeknd's new album that arrives on Friday (August 28). This growth has also materialized in front of our eyes, thanks to the compelling visuals behind "The Hills," "I Can't Feel My Face," and most recently "Tell Your Friends." Beneath the blood, the flames, and the murders, the Grant Singer-directed videos detailed Weeknd's attempt at shaking away the dark clouds that shrouded his past with new beginnings.
From the undeniable Lynchian tableau — the elderly fella perched on a chair — that haunts every video to the obstacles faced in each clip (from the car wreck to the flames), the singer endures plenty of darkness and winds up successfully making it through (sometimes) unfazed. This rocky journey winds up symbolizing that transformation from the mixtape-centric days to now pop stardom — a new terrain, Weeknd is still getting used to. "When [Taylor Swift] introduced me and the whole stadium screamed their lungs out, it kind of threw me off," he said about his famous appearance at the pop star's 1989 tour stop at MetLife Stadium last month. "I did not expect that reaction.” After hearing the album, by tomorrow, he should.
Check out the full interview here.