Admittedly, I was a bit late to The Weeknd bandwagon.
While my friends were madly listening to House of Balloons and Kiss Land, I was scratching my head with skepticism. It wasn’t until “The Hills” that I became a fan, though I use that term loosely since I still held onto some hesitation. Instead of engaging me, his music took me down this rabbit hole of drugs, sex and, of course, sex on drugs.
Sure, “The Hills” is addictive as hell, as is “I Can’t Feel My Face,” but there was only so much vice-driven self-loathing I could take.
Today (September 6), VMAN published its cover story with The Weeknd, or Abel Tesfaye, who went in-depth about his new album, his inspiration, and his creative process. One of the more curious moments in the piece, though, is when he talks about his relationship with politics.
The writer notes that Tesfaye called off an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in May because Donald Trump was the also a guest that evening. Tesfaye is an advocate of Black Lives Matter and has repeatedly shown his support for the movement on Twitter, particularly after the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Yet, for some reason, these sentiments don’t appear in his music.
“I wish I could make music about politics,” he says in the interview. “I feel like it’s such an art and a talent that I admire tremendously, but when I step into the studio I step out of the real world, and it’s therapeutic.”
Indeed, his story with VMAN exhibits the internal struggle of a superstar musician who wants to cover the same sociopolitical topics as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or Beyoncé’s Lemonade, but instead, is galvanized by what sells: a potent mix of sex and drugs, with a dash of self-deprecation.
Later he adds, “It’s an escape, but recently it’s been very hard to ignore, and it’s also been very distracting. Maybe you’ll hear it in my voice, but it is not my forté.”
Perhaps it’s time for him to flip the script, to do something unexpected, and flesh out some of these feelings on wax rather than online. That would certainly be revolutionary.