Drake and The Weeknd Attend A Birthday Party and You’re Not Invited

The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye brings you another music video, and this time, he’s brought his best buddy Drake along. Drake appears in the middle of “The Zone” for a quick rap amid The Weeknd’s lovelorn, falsetto-packed echo chamber of a single.

The video, which Tesfaye also directed (as he did a couple of other recent clips for his songs), features Drake and himself wandering through various light-shadow combinations (kind of a theme in these videos), along with what appears to be a birthday party, with brightly-colored balloons and women in bikinis applying lipstick and such. I don’t think we were invited, but you can still watch.

The Week In Covers: Reggie Watts Takes You to Panama and More

A selection of artists performing other people’s music from throughout the week:

 

Reggie Watts – “Panama”

Comedian/beatboxer/pretty cool guy of all trades Reggie Watts stopped by The Onion A.V Club’s Chicago office to take part in their “Undercover” series. He chose Van Halen’s bombastic ‘80s party anthem “Panama,” but no ironic David Lee Roth reworking would do here. Watts takes the song in a completely new direction, actually giving us an anthem about the nation of Panama and its canal, set to a looped beatbox. Educational!

Netherfriends & Show You Suck – “Full Of It”

Not a cover per se, but an interesting use of already-existing music anyway (not your typical mash-up, that’s for sure). The always-ambitious, nomadic Shawn Rosenblatt, who we last saw recording a song in each of the 50 states (your move, Sufjan!) introduces his new project, Netherfriends Does Nilsson, an album featuring Rosenblatt singing over tracks comprised of all Harry Nilsson samples. The results, especially on this funky single featuring Chicago rapper Show You Suck, are fantastic.

The Weeknd – “Dirty Diana”

The Canadian R&B icon, who will be appearing at a number of U.S. festivals this summer, has been incorporating Michael Jackson’s classic “Dirty Diana” into his repertoire for the past several months. Check out this video, featuring some sweet choreography, to get some idea of what this entails.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “God Save The Queen”

Neil Young and Crazy Horse returned this week with Americana, their album featuring a number of traditional American folk songs re-imagined through the lens of Mr. Young. Among them is this rockin’ version of “God Save the Queen,” just a few days too late to shake things up during the Diamond Jubilee.

Is This Leaked Lollapalooza Lineup on the Level?

Is the 2012 Lollapalooza lineup set in stone? If this grainy snapshot of a piece of paper is to be believed, then the annual music festival will be headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White and Florence + The Machine, with The Shins, At the Drive-In, Justice, The Weeknd, Sigur Ros, and more swooping in for the supporting time slots. It could be completely b.s. — again, it’s a grainy snapshot of a piece of paper — but the lineup seems very appropriate to Lollapalooza’s big tent appeal, and some of the acts have already been hinted at through promotion on Chicago’s transportation system. Check out the full (rumored) lineup over at Pretty Much Amazing

There may be one fly in the ointment: Black Sabbath previously cancelled a summer tour due to guitarist Tony Iommi’s lymphona treatment, and because drummer Bill Ward had previously expressed reluctance to do the reunion without being fairly compensated. But as this Rolling Stone report notes, Sharon Osbourne said that the band would be playing one American show in August — and, as it turns out, Lollapalooza happens to be American, a show, and in August. There’s your smoking gun if there ever was one. At any rate, we’ll know by Wednesday when the lineup is officially announced. There will be all sorts of fun to had at the festival regardless of who’s playing, as you can see below.

Jay-Z Totally Loves The Weeknd

Hip-hop megastar Jay-Z has plastered The Weeknd’s video for "The Knowing" all over his own Facebook page and his blog. Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

It had been rumored that The Weeknd had simply turned down previous meetings with Jay, causing many to believe that the still unsigned, massively succesful 20-year-old R&B enigma from Toronto (who hasn’t so much as given a single interview) with two critically acclaimed mixtapes under his belt wasn’t going to sign with anybody. After all, who turns down Jay-Z? Apparently, though, Mister Z has seemed to have had a change of heart, plugging the video for "The Knowing" by The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) on his 10,000,000 strong Facebook page and on his influental (and expertly curated) catch-all blog Life + Times

We’ve attached the video below, but we can only hope that Jay partners with The Weeknd in the future, because dear god the guy is the second coming of Prince. Just take a listen to his impeccable first or second mixtapes, available for free on his website. And take a look at the video. And then imagine just how much better Watch the Throne would have been with a little Weeknd thrown in. 

 

Drake Reflects on His Superstar Status, New Album, & The Weeknd’s Brilliance

On “HYFR (Hell Ya Fuckin’ Right),” one of the few bangers off Drake’s just-leaked, slow jam-heavy sophomore album Take Care, the 25 year-old Toronto rapper calls out journalists for confusing him, with half-baked questions like “Are you high right now?” and “Are you single?” His response? “Get the fuck up out my dressing room.” That anti-press sentiment might explain why Drake has been relatively quiet in the lead-up to his album’s highly anticipated November 15th release. Or maybe he’s just taking a page out of his mysterious protégé Abel Tesfaye’s (A.K.A The Weeknd) book on how to build hype. Tesfaye—the Toronto whiz-kid whose druggy, atmospheric R&B made for some of the most talked about music of the summer—rarely talks to the press, and has only been seen on stage a handful of times.

Tesfaye lends his addictive falsetto to four tracks on Take Care, an album that’s got as many shout outs to Drake’s hometown as it does to the harem of females that dot his life. With Tesfaye by his side, Drake seems eager to convince the world that Toronto’s about more than just Feist and frostbite. We spoke to hip-hop’s current prince about his new album, coming home a savior, and why The Weeknd might be best thing to happen to music since Prince.

How is your life different when you return to Toronto now?
Torontoalways felt so large to me, and I always felt like an outsider looking in, and I never thought I would be able to penetrate that world. All of a sudden, I’m like a king in this world: the strip clubs, women, fame, money—I’ve almost become this King Mayor in this world. I mean, I have, and that’s where the new album takes place.  It’s more about embracing the life that’s happening right now.    

What’s it like being so loved in the city that you’re from? 
That’s sort of the exact gist of the album.  To go from that kid who was truly a kid, who went to Forest Hill, and then Vaughn Road. I mean, I’ve seen all corners of the city, I’ve been with all kinds of people throughout the city, and just to come back and to be respected this much, it’s like a trip because I’m 25 years old.

Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself to be the mouthpiece for Toronto’s emerging rap scene?
I feel like even when you think about the greats that became gods, most of them became kings and gods when they were older. A lot of people that we respect put out their first album when they were 26, 27, and I’m 25 now, and I’m being treated like this savior. It’s the utmost form of respect, and I give it right back to them. I love them.  I do everything I can for this city, and that’s really what Take Care is all about.

Are you ever blown away when you think about the amount of success you’ve had, and all the giants you’ve had a chance to work with so early in your career?
Yeah, it’s like a combination of winning the lotto ticket, and when you get the lotto ticket, you feel like lightning hitting you. That’s the best way I can put it.  Winning the lottery and as you walk in to cash your ticket, you get hit by lightning. It’s rare. I used to sit at home and watch people, just watch people. I used to have pictures on my wall as a kid. I was a kid, man, and just to be able to say that in my lifetime, that everybody I had a picture on my wall of, I’ve now worked with, is an incredible thing.

You’ve been singing a lot more on your songs, and with The Weeknd’s contributions, is Take Care an R&B album as much as it is a rap album?
I think I really made a rap album.  Of course, I always incorporate melody because to be honest with you, I like melodies more than rap. I thrive on writing melodies and hooks, and I love writing R&B songs within my raps. I think I really found a great balance between rap and R&B. There’s actually not a song on this album that is not straight through R&B. I think that at any point, I’m either singing, rapping, or doing both on a song. I’m not just singing. I know on the last album I had “Cece’s Interlude” and a couple of others like “Shut It Down,” but on this album, all of my R&B is more purposeful, like to tell bits of a story as opposed to slow jams out of nowhere.  I’m more using R&B as transitions on this album, as opposed to making R&B songs.

Where does your love for R&B come from?
I used to take this road to Memphis with my dad, 22, 23 hours, whatever it was, and he used to let me rap for one hour. He’d give me one hour of rap, so I could play Doggystyle, Queen Latifah, whatever it was I was listening to, and then I had to listen to R&B the rest of the way, and that really shaped my ear. I used to have to listen to R&B 20 hours straight, like full albums. Then my dad told me I could bring my own R&B into the car, so I started bringing R&B artists that I liked, and that was how I discovered Aaliyah.

Are you thrilled that audiences have embraced this whole “Internet R&B” movement?
Yeah, I think it’s a different brand of R&B, and if you think about great music like Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley, all these artists that cool kids put on their Tumblr as their icons and heroes, they all had melodies, so it’s great  It’s great that it’s finding its way back to people like The Weeknd, like Frank Ocean, and myself, because melody is love, man. That’s what really commands the world, that’s what changes the world. The artist that changes the world has used melody at some point or another. The greatest artists that we all cherish and look up to have used it, so I think it’s only right. It only makes sense.

What was going through your mind during The Weeknd’s debut show this past summer in Toronto?
You know, I’ve heard him sing in front of me a lot, but it doesn’t really register with me sometimes. It’s getting on that stage that’s a different thing. Getting on that stage and being able to translate music and make it authentic to people, making it sound the way they’ve been listening to it on their iPods, or in their cars the past few months. It’s a very difficult thing to make music translate.  

Were you worried he wouldn’t pull it off?
I knew he had the voice, that was never a doubt of mine. I just didn’t know how it was going to translate, and I’ll never forget being up on that balcony, and my heart was beating faster than any other show I’ve ever done.  Even when Jay-Z brought me out, my heart was just beating so fast with excitement, and I was just so eager to see. I felt just like everyone else in that crowd, just eager to see what was going to happen.

And what happened?
I’ll never forget when those curtains opened and his demeanor within the first five seconds, I just knew what was about to happen. I knew it. I just knew it right away. A lot of people caught it after the first song or maybe mid-way through the show, but I knew. I knew within the first five seconds, this kid is the one.

There was a lot of chatter before the show that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. Was that vindication for you, when he came out and killed it?
Nah, because you know what?  I’m never that guy that goes “I told you so.” I don’t get joy out of that.  I’m more the “Fuck yes!” guy. Like when I see somebody over-deliver, it’s never like a sort of “Ah, man, see, see?” It’s never that.  For example, I had a show at Sound Academy, my first show in Toronto for So Far Gone. It was a crazy show, and I delivered. I went out there, and I was Drake. That’s what people wanted to see. I delivered my songs. They yelled, they screamed. I was from Toronto, so it was great.

But The Weeknd came out there and did something that I’ve never seen before in my life. He was basically up there saying, “This is why I’m here, because none of you could ever do this in your life. I am probably one of three people in the world, if that, that can sing in this high register, that can write these words down, that can put them over these beats, and give you this feeling. I am the only person. Like when I say one of three people, I’m talking like, I don’t know who else can give you this feeling.  I had like Sade, Prince-type feelings when he came out on stage. I had real legendary emotions coursing through my body during his performance. It was an incredible night for him.

Did you feel that way about him when you first heard him sing?
One thing I was never able to do was doubt him, because he’s delivered on so many occasions. When he came out with the demo of House of Balloons, I remember I was in Oliver’s car, and I heard the demos, and to hear his music grow from that, I was like, Oh my God, this kid, he gets it. And then not only that, but for him to shift over and start working on Take Care with me and deliver in that realm, for me, that’s one thing I’ll never forget. So did I worry? No, because that’s my brother, that’s my friend, and I know we think the same way, and I know he wasn’t going to let it be bad. But how good it was, was mind-blowing to me. It could have just been good and it still would have been great and gotten rave reviews, but every positive word that was written about him, he deserved because it was truly something, for Toronto especially. It was the most epic performance I can remember.

The Weeknd’s New Mixtape ‘Thursday’ is Here

If it wasn’t so difficult to track down Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, he’d probably tell you that the best and most unexpected things always happen afterhours. Last night, the R&B maestro dropped Thursday, the follow-up mixtape to his super sexy spring release House of Balloons. And yeah, the women, the partying, the drugs, they’re all here in abundance.

Like House of Balloons, Abel offers up nine tracks, taking listeners on a hazy journey through his debauchery-filled nights. His best pal Drake was bound to make an appearance, and that happens on “The Zone” (“Man, if pole dancing’s an art, you know how many fucking artists I know?”). Last night, servers crashed and sites froze, but this morning, things are working fine again. Download Thursday at the The Weeeknd’s website, or here, just in case the frenzy begins again.

Echoes of Silence will follow Thursday, as the Weeknd has promised to drop three albums, in total, by the fall.

The Weeknd – The Zone (Featuring Drake)

Morning Links: Gwyneth Paltrow Saved A Woman’s Life On 9/11, Will Smith Is Readying A Comeback

● Universal is using The Big Lebowski to launch their Social Theater on Facebook, an application with which allows viewers to stream movies for 30 Facebook credits or $3. The Dude of Facebook? ‘Like.’ [THR] ● Surely GOOP has touched at least a few lives, but we can’t say we expected to hear that Gwyneth Paltrow is saving lives, too! In this particular case, a woman claims she was late to work on 9/11 after Gwyneth nearly ran her over in a large SUV. [People] ● The Weeknd’s finally let go of his much anticipated second mixtape, Thursday, and it’s as as dark, sleazy, wonderful as the last. and features Drake. It’s available for free download from his site. [The Weeknd]

● Ashton Kutcher may be in trouble with the FTC for failing to fully disclose his investments in the special online issue of Details he guest edited. The issue sang praise of several online start-ups, many of which he plays a heavy financial-hand in. [NYT] ● Heads up Big Willy fans: hip-hop producer La Mar “Mars” Edwards says he’s working with Will Smith on a comeback. [XXL] ● Anne Hathaway warmed up for her roll as Catwoman by watching videos of cats on YouTube. If that’s all it takes, it’s safe to say we’d be ready too. [Interview]

The Weeknd Will Be Singing All Over Drake’s ‘Take Care’ Album

This past spring, all it took was a tweet from Drake to send downloads of The Weeknd’s wonderfully raunchy R&B album House of Balloons skyrocketing. Since then, the Toronto artistes have been spotted together at numerous shows and events, including Drake’s recent OVO Fest. They’ve also been spending a lot of time in the studio — and while it was at first unclear exactly whose album the resulting tracks would end up on, Drizzy has confirmed that The Weeknd will be singing on his sophomore album, Take Care. A lot.

Drake gave Billboard the lowdown, explaining that the two did some heavy-duty work together. “He’s on my album a lot. We really collaborated a lot on this album,” Drake said. “Not only did he inspire me to get out there and sing better on stage, but he inspired me writing-wise, music-wise, just to better my product.”

Also, Drake just really loves this dude, period. “He’s one of the greatest artists I’ve ever heard,” he continued. “To hear someone with an incredible body of work is very rare. It’s very inspiring. We formed OVOXO, which is taking over right now. I’m proud of him. He works real hard. He’s just an incredible person, [has] become a really close friend to me.”

So, does this mean that Drake’s promise to sing less and rap more on Take Care just means that he’ll do the rapping while The Weeknd does the singing? That’s compromise.

Look, they even remix each other’s songs for fun!

The Weeknd – “Trust Issues” remix

Drake – “Trust Issues”

The High 5 Collective: Making Music Videos So Musicians Don’t Have To

This week in Online Discoveries—you know, that show we just made up—we’re featuring a video, art, and video-art collective called High 5. As is often the case, we first discovered High 5’s work on a friend’s Facebook page, and they have yet to receive the blog hyperbole we think they’re worthy of. What they do is fairly simple: They make professional-looking music videos for songs that inspire them. So far, those songs happen to be from of-the-moment acts like Frank Ocean and the Weeknd, but if that helps get these dudes some attention, more power to them.

Below is a sampling of their work. (For more, head to their Tumblr). It’s a video for “The Morning” by mysterious R&B revisionist and Drake BFF the Weeknd, and it could easily pass as official. It features four ladies—including one hell of a Brooklyn Decker lookalike—who find themselves ambling through a desert after a night out clubbing. Messages about the corrupting power of fame, money, drugs, and sex can also be found, and so on and so forth. Like any good music video should, it resonates with the song, so high five, guys. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

The Weeknd – The Morning (music video) from High5Collective on Vimeo.