The Weeknd - Trilogy

Posted 3 years ago

Over the course of 2011, Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye transfixed music fans across the blogosphere with hit mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence. Now signed to Univeral Republic, the T-Dot R&B phenom makes his major-label debut with Trilogy, a triple-album featuring fully mixed and mastered versions of the full Trilogy as well as three new songs: "Twenty Eight," "Valerie" and "Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun)."

"Wicked Games" was released as the lead single off the set, followed by the previously-featured "Rolling Stone." Boasting appearances by Drake and Juicy J, and production by Doc McKinney, illAngelo and Zodiac, the project is available for digital purchase via the buy link above.

Trilogy Album Review

It was just over two years ago that the world was struggling to figure out who The Weeknd was: wait, so they’re a group? But in the short time since we learned The Weeknd was, despite what grammar might suggest, really just one guy named Abel Tesfaye, it’s not an exaggeration to say that he’s fundamentally helped change the sound of modern R&B. In sharp contrast to the early 2000s polished, uptempo and six-packed style (think Usher, 112, etc.), The Weeknd ushered in an age of R&B drowning in underwater distortion, regret-fueled sex and enough prescription pills to tranquilize a baby elephant. And with Drake building the bandwagon and then inviting all of rap onto it, The Weeknd’s become increasingly influential in hip-hop as well. From an unknown kid from Toronto to one of the most influential people in music; not too shabby, huh?

In a true sign of the times, he’s done it all without an album. Or, more accurately, he’s done it all with three free albums that have been called mixtapes because…you know what, the semantics don’t matter. What matters is that The Weeknd is now a major label player, and said label (Universal/Republic) has packaged all three projects – House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence – added on some new material, and just like that The Weeknd has a debut “album”, the aptly-titled Trilogy.

Now, there’s still a large swath of America who have never heard The Weeknd, but I suspect that most of the people reading this review are well versed in Abel’s brand of narco-R&B, so let’s use this review both as a chance to specifically review Trilogy and delve into the musical phenomenon that is The Weeknd. There’s no better place to start than with High for This, the track that I’m guessing served as in introduction to The Weeknd for most. (Either that or Loft Music.) It’s hard to remember now, but at the time there was a real “oh sh*t, I’ve never hard anything quite like this” element to High For This. Abel’s vocals managed to be simultaneously raw and smooth, while the production fluctuated between gauzy verses and a jittering, pounding chorus: call it the fix and the come down. That dysfunctional elegance would quickly establish itself as The Weeknd’s trademark style. On the surface Wicked Games is laid back but there are notes of menace in the bass line, and it’s hard to imagine something like “bring the drugs, baby, I could bring the pain” ever coming out of Trey Songz’ mouth. From Balloons to Silence, the same self-destructive streak paced throughout the music, culminating in the nihilism of The Fall, XO/The Host and the almost frightening The Initiation.

While Trilogy showcases a fiercely new voice in R&B, nothing springs from nothingness. (You might have to be high to catch that last sentence.) More simply put, it’s not hard to tease out The Weeknd’s influences – most obviously Michael Jackson. D.D. finds Abel covering Dirty Diana, MJ’s warning about the dangers of groupie love, teasing out every bit of pain and regret he can squeeze from the original. But while D.D. is powerful, the MJ-influence is most easily felt when the pace slows to a crawl. Coming Down’s rising falsettos and breathy delivery are laden with echoes of Mike. Or, if you’d rather get specific, just listen to the way Abel ends his notes with a sharp inhale on the bridge of Twenty Eight (1:37 – 1:44). He may have chopped and distorted and muddied and run MJ’s music through a blender, but the original ingredients are all still detectable.

Ultimately, Trilogy is more of a sonic landmark then it is a new work. Let’s be real, very few will purchase an 160 minute album they could otherwise essentially get for free (minus Trilogy’s three new tracks). No, Trilogy is more of an anthology, a greatest hits collection where nearly every song The Weeknd’s ever made is a greatest hit, than an album in the traditional sense. But landmarks are important, they allow us to measure the distance between two points, to compare the past to the present (and future). House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence are now officially the past. Trilogy is the present. And the future is The Weeknd’s to take.

DJBooth Rating - 4.5 Spins

Comments
Written by
Posted 3 years ago
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Sample Text - Sample Link
0:00
3:00
Shrink
Hide

More from The Weeknd

Featured Video

Hip Hop News

Dave East on the Intersection of Fatherhood & Hip-Hop: “I Gotta Have a Filter”

The East Harlem, New York native is now signed to Def Jam, but his approach to music is changing. Read More
Posted one hour ago by DJ Z

Young Thug is the Prince of Hip-Hop

Thugger’s role in hip-hop resembles that of the Purple One more and more each day. Read More
Posted 2 hours ago by Brent Bradley

D.R.A.M. on How Life’s Changed: “For The Next Six Months, I Have Two Free Days”

The rising star breaks down the difference between being actually busy and fake grinding on social media. Read More
Posted 3 hours ago by DJ Z

Juicy J’s “Ballin” Single “Featuring” Kanye is an Exercise in Unmet Expectations

Juicy J and Kanye on the same track is a guaranteed banger, right? Wrong. Read More
Posted 20 hours ago by DJ Z

Strange Music & Monster Energy Announce Winner of Tech N9ne’s Warrior Built Contest

The winner will be flown to Kansas City to record a new version of the indie superstar's "P.T.S.D." single. Read More
Posted 21 hours ago by DJ Z

André 3000 to Deliver Huge Co-Sign to $ilk Money on “DECEMBA” Remix

The Richmond rapper's profile is going to reach a new level on Thursday. Read More
Posted 21 hours ago by DJ Z

TRENDING NOW



Flame

TOP 20 MUSIC CHARTS


Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.