How a mystery-shrouded soul savant set the music biz on fire.
So, who is this guy?
Real name: Abel Tesfaye, although it took a while for anyone to figure that out. When the 22-year-old Toronto-native's seemingly morphine-soaked R&B started turning up under the name "The Weeknd" in 2011, his true identity remained a mystery. But with the release of his first nine-song mixtape, House of Balloons, that March, music fans (and music makers) shit their collective drawers. Today sees the release of his official major-label debut, Trilogy (Universal Republic), so you'll be hearing his name a lot in the coming weeks.
Is the hype justified?
Well, MTV called him the "best musical talent since Michael Jackson" while The Source called him "the songbird of His Generation" (frankly, we though that title was already taken by Will Ferrell's character in Stepbrothers, but that's another matter). So there's that. And as part of a new wave of soul singers including Frank Ocean and Miguel (hilariously) dubbed PBR&B, The Weeknd appeals to hipsters and hip-hoppers alike: fellow Toronto-native Drake has taken him under his wing, while the indie-tastemakers at Pitchfork.com have been beating The Weeknd drum like John Bonham on a meth binge.
Should I buy Trilogy then?
Hell yes. Although technically it's a collection of his three previously released mixtapes (House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence), the material has been remastered, and three excellent new tracks have been added. The fact is that most fans of The Weeknd's will have heard most of this material in some form or another (for free, no less), yet it's still sitting pretty at number 3 on the iTunes chart. (And we should note the first two spots are both taken by those snot-nosed lymies in One Direction, which hardly seems fair.) But more importantly, listening to the collection as a whole, Trilogy gives the sense that it was always intended to be experienced together, as a unified work. And let's be honest, 30 tracks for $10 is just too good to pass up.
Show me some girls.