If you’re an R&B fanatic like I am, The Weeknd is one of the artists constantly in rotation on your iPhone. Born by the name Abel Tesfaye, I first heard The Weeknd’s music in 2011 when I gave Drake’s Grammy winning album Take Care a listen. I was hooked from there on, his sultry voice and deep cut lyrics had me from the get go. I heard a young Michael Jackson in the making, not since the King himself had I heard such a voice that could bridge generational gaps and bring people together. Perfect example of that, my 50 something year old C.E.O. came into my office singing The Weeknd’s hit single “Can’t Feel My Face” the other day. See what I mean? I honestly feel in about 20 years I’ll have some Weeknd playing at the family BBQ telling my kids, “Boooooooy, you don’t know nothing bout this. Go ask yo momma who this is, she knows.”
Last week The Weeknd blessed us with another body of work, his second studio album Beauty Behind the Madness. He waited two years in between projects, his last Kiss Land, in my opinion was nowhere near the caliber of his introduction to the mainstream Trilogy. The first two bodies of work feel like two very specific times in his life, something I feel not many artists can capture the way The Weeknd does. He lets you into his mind and his personal life. He’s not shy talking about his heavy drug use, “Even though, you don’t roll, trust me girl, you wanna be high for this,” from his song “High for this,” is just one of many examples. His music takes you places deep in your soul, and makes you think thoughts that sometimes may be uncomfortable. He pushes the envelope with his love for women and constantly let’s them know that what they are experiencing can’t last forever.
When I listen to music, I really listen. I zone out and let the artists words paint the picture they wanted me to see. I remember songs by specific lines and The Weeknd is one of the best. I’ve given Beauty Behind the Madness spin after spin, after spin from start to finish, just like it was intended to be listened to. This album had me feeling high and then feeling low, something I hope you can feel as I give a song by song over view and point out the lyrics that stood out for me on every song.
Man, oh man, what a way to start off an album. Anytime you mention your momma on the track, you know it’s about to get heavy. The Weeknd starts off by saying what I previously mentioned, “Tell em this heart doesn’t stay to one.” Right off the bat he opens up about his failure in the love department. He goes on the say that his mom called him destructive and it would ruin him one day. The vulnerability and honesty portrayed is astonishing, not many artists would be able to be transparent when it comes to that sensitive of a subject. What really stood out to me is there was not any drug references for such a real song, what I got from it is that he’s trying to deal with “Real Life” in a sober way. I may be wrong but that’s the beauty of art, it’s meant to start conversations.
Standout Lyric: “Heaven only let’s a few in, It’s too late for me to choose it, Don’t waste precious tears on me, I’m not worth the misery, I’m better off when I’m alone.”
“Only losers go to school, I taught myself how to move, I’m not the type to count on you, Because stupid’s next to I love you,” BAM, in other words, I don’t need you for anything. A little back-story is that The Weeknd dropped out of school at 17 to pursue his music career. From the looks of it, he knew way before anybody else did that he was going to be a superstar. Whether he’s talking to an old girlfriend or a few buddies that left along the way, The Weeknd makes it very clear about he feels.
Standout Lyric: “And now that we’re all grown up, Who do we owe it to, And now that we’ve gone this far, Who do we owe it all too, We did it all alone, Now we’re coming for the throne.”
Tell Your Friends
Every time I gave the album a spin, I had to run this record back a few times. It spoke to me on so many levels, the women, the drugs, and going M.I.A from the people around you. I don’t think a better title could have been chosen for this record. I feel he wants the women around him to tell their friends about the real him, to not hold anything back. “Baby girl just wanna smoke a pound, Do an ounce, get some d**k, tell her friends about it.” For better or worse he wants all the cards on the table, he knows where he’s headed with the life he chose and feels he doesn’t need to shy away from the real him. The last verse really dips into a hard time in his life, “Me and Lamar would rob a n***a for his Jordan’s, and flip it jus to get these hoes another nose fix.” It’s mind blowing to me that you can go from that scenario, to now being arguably the hottest name in R&B.
Standout Lyric: “I’m that n***a with the hair, Singin’ bout popping pills, F*****g bitches, livin’ life so trill.”
I actually heard this record waaaaay before I knew The Weeknd was going to drop another album. I’m talking early this year, nonetheless, I knew this was more than just a throw away record. It had a bigger purpose, the beat was bumpin’, The Weeknd’s flow was powerful, it just felt, what’s the word, right? We’ll go with that. I think the positioning of this record was masterful; it came right at a time where the direction of the album began to change. It took us back to a subject that had been lacking on the album, sex. No one in this generation is able to set the mood quite like this man. “Bitches down to do it either way, often, Baby I can make that p***y rain, often.” He bodied this record from start to finish and made it a banger for the clubs, or something to vibe to when you’re with your main squeeze.
Standout Lyric: “If I had her, you can have her, man it don’t matter, I’m never sour, I’m just smoking something much louder.”
STRIPPER ANTHEM, I REPEAT, STRIPPER ANTHEM. That bass drop is what the kids now a days say is insert fire emoji. The first time I ever heard this record I was in my car with a girl I was seeing. Word of advice, take a drive at night, just you and her. Throw this record on… you’re welcome. It took me about 174 times to listen to it until I realized this record was about an affair he was involved in. “Found out I was coming sent your friends home, Keep on tryna hide it but your friends know, I only call you when it’s half past five, The only time that I’ll be by your side.” That’s some next level pimpin’ right there, he only calls her at a certain time of the day, and she answers.
Standout Lyric: “I only love it when you touch me, not feel me, when I’m f*****d up, that’s the real me.”
We all have that one girl that we KNOW is bad for us, and this record embodies that feeling. “All my n****s think I’m crazy cause I’m thinkin’ bout us lately, But really if I could, I’d forget about you.” We’ve all been there, but that doesn’t stop The Weeknd. He speaks about the 90’s girls, The Weeknd, as myself, was born in 1990. I know exactly what he means when he talks about that kind of girl. “I got ‘em thinkin’ that they want me, Although they know they not the only, I got ‘em wanting to embrace their sins.” Does that make any sense? No, it doesn’t. 90’s girl in a nutshell.
Standout Lyric: “You got me puttin’ time in, time in, Nobody got me feeling this way, You probably think I’m lyin’, lyin.”
Can’t Feel My Face
The Billboard topping single is a vintage Michael Jackson pop radio record. The catchy hook and the funky beat that makes you bob your head all the way through. The only artist I have heard who can come in and out of tunes and pitches like only the King of Pop could. It took me a couple plays to realize he was talking about drugs, not a woman. “And I know she’ll be the death of me, At least we’ll both be numb.” I wonder how many people singing this in their car every day realize he’s speaking about cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol, or LSD? The list can go on and on but you get what I’m trying to say. Once again, The Weeknd brings the ability to make you dance all night with his unique blend of funk and drug infused lyrics.
Standout Lyric: “All the misery was necessary when we’re deep in love, This I know, girl, I know.
“I don’t want to hurt you but you live for the pain, I’m not tryna say it but it’s what you became.” Very first line of the hook and I froze. I played it over and over again. It made me think of a very specific person, something I feel great music should do, either that or a specific time. He sounds entitled on this record, but not in a bad way. “Ooh, said you wanna be good but you couldn’t keep your composure, Ooh, said you wanna be good but you’re begging me to come over.” Is he trying to pass blame on a certain young lady? Sure sounds like it, thanks Weeknd for feeding into the stereotype of men not accepting any blame.
Standout Lyric: “You want me to fix you but it’s never enough, That’s why you always call me cause you’re scared to be loved, But I’ll always be there for you.”
When I first heard that they were making a movie to the book Fifty Shades of Grey I thought one thing, if they don’t put The Weeknd on the soundtrack someone deserves to get fired, I don’t care who it is, someone has to go. Luckily, someone agreed with me and “Earned It” was bestowed upon us. This soulful and riveting track captures the pure essence of the film. “Cause girl, you’re perfect, You’re always worth it.” Lust and sexual aggression ooze from The Weeknd, but this time it feels different. This feels deeper than that; it almost feels like he loves her. “We live with no lies, hey, hey, You’re my favorite kind of night.” Those sweet nothing’s he whispers might actually start to hold value.
Standout Lyric: “On that lonely night, We said it wouldn’t be love, But we felt the rush, It made us believe it was only us.”
In the Night
I finished writing the last part of this piece at my buddy Derek’s house. I had the album playing and the first thing he said when heard this record come on was, “That sounds like Michael Jackson.” It does, but at the same time it doesn’t. Once you get past the catchy beat, the lyrics take you to the darkest part of the album. “He sang a song when he did it, He was cold and he was so unforgiving… She was young and she was forced to be a woman.” My whole mood changed, I still was bobbin’ my head but the graphic images played in my head. It was like a dark twisted fantasy that I’ve never been apart of. “In the night she hears him calling, In the night she’s dancing to relieve the pain.” This song made me feel something, it really moved me. Easily my favorite track.
Standout Lyric: “In a world without an end or beginning, Baby was living life for the feeling.”
As You Are
A very sentimental song when you really absorb it all in. “Even though you break my heart, my love, Imma need you.” No one’s perfect, we all have flaws. The Weeknd is telling his girl I love you the way you are, imperfections and all. “I know what we are, our love’s too young.” He understands where he is in his life, the challenges presented every day simply because of who he is, and he wants this one. She just has to accept that he’s going to mess up, too. It’s brutally honest but if she can deal with The Weeknd being unfaithful, he’s willing to make it work. Oh the life of R&B royalty, who else can make those kinds of demands?
Standout Lyric: “I’ll take you as you are, Show me your broken heart to know your flaws.”
Smooth, just smooth. I was stuck trying to figure how I wanted to describe this song. The Weeknd brought along British star Ed Sheeran, if you don’t know who he is fellas go to YouTube and search “Thinking Out Loud”. Play this for your girl when you’re in trouble, once again, you’re welcome. This definitely wasn’t a collaboration I ever pictured, but I’m sure glad these two made this happen. “This ain’t the right time for you to fall in love with me, Baby I’m just being honest.” I love the overall theme of the record and how both artists seem to bring out the best in each other. “In my dark times I’ve still got some problems I know, Driving too fast but just moving too slow, And I’ve got something I’ve been trying to let go, Pulling me back every time.” The duet between the two in the last verse was the perfect way to send this track to rest.
Standout Lyric: “I got another man’s blood on my clothes, But it ain’t his fault, It’s the life I chose.”
What a powerful ballad this record was. The Weeknd re-visits a common theme, his drug use. “I’m a prisoner to my addiction, I’m addicted to a life that’s so empty and so cold.” Heart breaking, right? I think this is my first time hearing The Weeknd refer to it as that, he finally has come to the realization that he indeed is a prisoner. The lovely Lana Del Rey adds a nice touch, as she is the only female to appear on this album, her voice floats across the melody and almost eases the pain The Weeknd is feeling. “I think I’ve been in Hollywood for too long, Cause I can feel my soul burning, feel it burning slow.” This line stood out the most on this whole album; I always thought making it to Hollywood would have the complete opposite effect on me. Guess not.
Standout Lyric: “Maybe I’ve been always destined to end up in this place, I don’t mean to come off selfish, But I want it all, Love will always be a lesson, Let’s get out of it’s way.”
This song just sounds so much different than the rest of the album; it’s the perfect outro. Like I said before, the positioning of the records all the way through was immaculate. The Weeknd is pouring out his heart to his Angel, he wants her to go out and find someone to love her the way she deserves to be loved. “I hope you find somebody to love, somebody to love.” He’s stronger than me; I don’t think I could be that strong and self less. Especially after he says, “ Knew you were special from the moment I saw you, I saw you, yeah, I said angel.” I’ve come across the girl I felt was heaven sent and had me thinking there was an angel in my presence, once again he makes you relate to real life. He does it like no other and put an emphatic ending to what was a perfect album.
Standout Lyric: “I can see your wings, But I know what I am and the life I live.”