The Weeknd’s Starboy – A Review

I don't really remember when I first heard The Weeknd sing.

I know it was before he was featured on "Crew Love" from Drake's Take Care album. I was going through all the songs Drake was featured on when he was an up-and-coming artist and I stumbled on "The Zone" from the Thursday mixtape.

He got me with the smooth voice singing about real shit. A kind of thuggish R&B, which is still kind of soft, but I welcomed the style. To be honest, The Weeknd and Miguel are the artists I would resort to if I ever needed an R&B song to express how I feel. Is that weird? I don't know. My point is I'm a Weeknd fan.

After hearing "The Zone", I gave his second mixtape, Thursday a listen and loved it. I went deeper and listened to House of Balloons, which was good too. Finally, I listened to Echoes of Silence and I was hooked.

The Weeknd then compiled all of those mixtapes in one album he titled Trilogy. He added a few songs such as "High for This" and released it to the public. Given that he rubbed elbows with other popular artists such as Drake, his project was thrusted to the spotlight and then met with critical acclaim.


GOING "MAINSTREAM"

It's always funny when we discover a new artist. We want them to succeed, get a record deal and get all the support they need to make even better music. We want them to keep delighting us, but we want them to keep their creative integrity and not go mainstream.

Remember when Pitbull was doing the Lil Jon-style crunk music with a latin flavor on songs such as "Ay Chico" (the girls made that video interesting) and then dude went mainstream and his music was not the same AT ALL. I mean, "Fireball" … Really, Pitbull? I know crunk may be dead, but damn, keep making tracks with Ne-Yo instead, bro. That'll be much better for us all.

What about Rihanna? When she first stepped into the spotlight, she was this island girl with a sexy body and nice dance moves who was doing pop music with a dancehall vibe on songs like "Pon de Replay". She then transitioned into major pop status with song like "Shut Up and Drive" and other annoying songs. Rihanna then reached a crazy level of fame (even the Chris Brown thing didn't stop her) where she can do whatever she wants and we call it gold.

I have to give her credit though. When you're a big-time pop star and the lead single for your album is "Bitch Better Have My Money", you're good in my book.

Back to The Weeknd though. We didn't want him to be corrupted by record label or by demands to appeal to mass audiences who can't relate to his true musical style. When he came out with "I Can't Feel My Face" off his Beauty Behind the Madness album, I was scared.

I liked the song, but it was so different from the sound that initially made me a fan. The next single off that album, "The Hills", was a little more Weeknd-like but, given that it was a commercial hit, I was afraid that the commercial sound would now define him as an artist. Money will do that to people.


THE WEEKND IN 2016

Fast forward to right about now. The "Starboy" single drops and it's fire.

It's not vintage Weeknd, not too commercial and it's a Daft Punk collaboration. It's one of my favorite songs of 2016 and it's hard for me to explain why. It's just a really good song. The video for the song depicts a fresh, new haircut Weeknd killing his old self (the one with the funky ass haircut). After seeing that, I thought, "Oh, snap! Weeknd's going back to his roots". I thought his new album, Starboy, would be vintage Weeknd meets new Weeknd.

The album is not what i anticipated, but it's still a good album. It has a lot of really good songs and it's a easy, smooth listen. The only problem is that it's longer than his usual albums. There's 18 tracks on here, but it could have easily been a 10 to 12-track classic.

As far as lyrical content goes, I don't like R&B albums that are all about how mufuckas would die for a girl or kill for a girl or walk a thousand miles just to smell their hair or breathe in their fart that smeels like roses. That's some bullshit.

I also don't like R&B songs that are all about locking yourself in a room with a girl with nothing but some Hennessy, a copy of the Kama Sutra, some ecstasy pills and way too much time. There are probably two songs that sort of fit that bill on this album.

The rest of the songs are all about cars, cocaine cowgirls, the party life and how The Weeknd is still that dude surrounded by lame R&B dudes. 

Let's take a look at the best and the worst this album has to offer.

 

THE GOOD

Starboy

The title track and one of the best songs of the album. I still haven't met someone that doesn't dance or sings along with the chorus. It has pretty materialistic lyrics, but it's a great song.

 

Sidewalks

That blues guitar, fam! I could listen to variations of this shit all day. This song is about the streets, homie, and it's the type of song that made me like the Weeknd in the first place. 

Oh, and did I mention that Kendrick Lamar is on this song too? These two need to collaborate more often. 

 

Secrets

The Weeknd switches his singing style on this track. This song kind of has an 80s electric pop sound to it and it works. I feel like this song would be perfect for a Miami Vice club scene where Crockett and Tubbs are looking for a bad guy through a crowd of dancers high off their asses.

I really like this song.

 

Reminder

True Weeknd R&B track. The Weeknd's still talking his materialistic shit on this song, but the main point is for you to remember who in the hell he is and respeck it. (Shout out to Birdman.)

 

All I Know

That beat just switches up at one point and goes hard. I'm no Future fan, but he feels right at home on this track, so I'm not mad at him for this one.

 

Party Monster

I like the beat of this song for reasons I can't explain.

 

I Feel It Coming

Another Daft Punk collaboration. I hated this song when I first heard it, but now it's on repeat.

 

THE BAD

False Alarm

Don't like the beat or his singing style on this one. It gets increasingly annoying the more you listen to it.

 

Rockin' 

It sort of like "Secrets" but not as good because it sounds a bit too commercial for my taste. It's not a bad track, and I really like the chorus, but it sounds like a failed "Secrets".

 

Die For You / Nothing Without You 

Don't like these kind of tracks because I feel they're untrue (see above). However, I understand the need for their existence. That one dude who just fell in "love" with his long time crush and is completely infatuated with her may need this song to explain how he feels for the three months it takes for him to come back to his senses.

Other than that, it's completely unnecessary.

 

LAST WORD

Bruh.

If this was the official track list … 

  1. Starboy
  2. Party Monster
  3. Reminder
  4. Secrets
  5. Sidewalks
  6. A Lonely Night
  7. All I Know
  8. I Feel It Coming
  9. Six Feet Under
  10. Ordinary Life
  11. Rockin'
  12. Die For You (for the suckas)

… the album would've been straight fire. It easily could have been a 10-track album.

I think that the only reason this album isn't great is because there's too much. Less would have been more in this scenario.

The Weeknd is an extremely talented artist who I think has yet to reach is full potential as crazy as that sounds. He has an amazing voice and some range. This album isn't a misfire by any means, but it could've hit harder if certain songs failed to make the cut.

 

written by Joe Renegade

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