One of the most anticipated album releases of the year, Canadian singer/songwriter Abel Tesfaye, “The Weeknd", released his third studio album “Starboy” on November 25, 2016. With production credits to Daft Punk and Diplo, “Starboy” is 70 minutes of pop mastery. The Weeknd’s sensual melodies and tongue-in-cheek wordplay return in classic fashion, all while the abrasive and upbeat instrumentals bring his music to uncharted territory, bringing joy to fans both old and new.
1. Song: Rockin’
Yeah, people always talk about the one that got away
I just seem to get the ones that always want to stay
Anyone familiar with The Weeknd’s usual lyrical content knows that forming faithful relationships with women is not exactly his style. The phrase “the one that got away” is associated with one losing the love of their life, something that Abel does not relate to. He would much rather leave the emotions and commitment on the side, keeping his relationships solely about sex. As the human struggle goes, Abel doesn’t always get what he wants, he’s attracting women that are looking for long-term relationships.
2. Song: False Alarm
Six inch long, ‘bout three inches wide (she loves)
Dolla dolla bill is her only type (she loves)
Here The Weeknd uses his reputation as an over-sexualized R&B artist to his advantage. Hearing Abel sing the words: “six inch long, ‘bout three inches wide”, one can already assume what he’s referring to. However, as the following line states, he is actually referencing the dimensions of a dollar bill. The main theme follows a woman that shows her attraction to The Weeknd in an attempt to get to his money. The “dolla bill” line also gives the listener a moment to realise the meaning changed with the money, and so did things with Abel’s love life turned into money/fame hungry girls.
3. Song: Ordinary Life
Heaven knows that I’ve been told
Paid for the life that I chose
If I could, I’d trade it all
Trade it for a halo
On this song, The Weeknd finally hits reality. As the fame and success piles up, one can easily slip into a life of partying, drugs and sex as a means of celebration and coping with stress. For a man of religious faith such as Abel, this adds another level of complexity to the lifestyle. The halo is symbolic for The Weeknd wanting to give up all of the sinful aspects of his life in exchange for something more pure and purposeful. But as we see from his choice of words, he seems to have reached a point of no return, making his dream of living an ordinary life just that, a dream.
4. Song: Die For You
I'm findin' ways to articulate the feeling I'm goin' through
I just can't say I don't love you
Communication is the most important aspect of any relationship, but it also tends to be the hardest. “Die For You” touches on the topic of breakups, and the confusion of emotions that come with it. The Weeknd doesn’t want to say “I don’t love you,” but it seems that anything he says will lead to that thought, so he must choose his words carefully to express his feelings.
5. Song: Starboy
House so empty, need a centrepiece
20 racks a table cut from ebony
Cut that ivory into skinny pieces
Then she clean it with her face man I love my baby
With this lyric, The Weeknd paints a clear picture of luxury, drugs and emotional emptiness. “Cut that ivory into skinny pieces” is in reference to cocaine, which he gives to his woman on a $20,000 ebony table. Despite his expensive furniture, Abel still describes his house as “empty,” so while he loves that he has a girl to coke with him, he doesn’t have much else to love.
6. Song: Sidewalks (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
Lyric: (Kendrick Lamar)
Say, say, say
Trippin' off Dyke, and my name strike with pay day
Say, say, say
Flippin' blue lightning, tightening, strapped with AK
Kendrick has built his career from addressing the gang violence and drug use in his hometown of Compton. “Dyke” is a slang term for dihydrocodeine, a popular pain-killer. “Blue lightning” is in reference to a certain brand of MDMA pill, famous among drug dealers for its low dosage and cheap price. Kendrick describes himself as selling drugs, on drugs, all while fitted with an AK-47.
7. Song: All I Know
I know there's been stigma 'round me
I know you heard things about me
You sleep one eye closed
Too scared to get heartbroke
It’s no secret that Abel does lots of drugs and doesn’t bring himself into committed relationships. Here, The Weeknd finds that this stigma towards his lifestyle is giving him a bad reputation, especially towards a particular woman he is interested in. She “sleeps with one eye closed,” a phrase used to describe those with paranoia and anxiety, in this case over the fear of getting her heart broken. Knowing Abel’s lifestyle certainly does not make it easier for the girl, and he knows it.
8. Song: Reminder
All I wanna do is make that money and make dope shit
It just seem like niggas tryna sound like all my old shit
Everybody knows it, all these niggas know me
Platinum off a mixtape, sipping on that codeine
Over the past 5 years, we have seen the Weeknd elevate from a hipster R&B act from Toronto to an international pop star. His first commercial release was the double platinum selling “Trilogy,” which was a collection of his first three mixtapes. Since then, he has continued to develop and evolve his sound to make him a regular on the Billboard charts. “Trilogy” is arguably one of the most influential releases of the past decade, making it the bases for the R&B sound emerging from the likes of Bryson Tiller and PARTYNEXTDOOR. While these artists may have their own niches that make them unique, they ultimately would be nothing without The Weeknd’s influence in music production.
9. Song: Six Feet Under
Got a couple niggas blinging up a trap phone
She don't need nobody waiting back home, she got it
A “trap phone,” according to Ottawa rapper and frequent Weeknd collaborator “Belly”, is a cheap disposable phone popular for drug dealers. “Six Feet Under” describes a woman who uses her sexual deviances to obtain money. There is “nobody waiting back home” because her lifestyle can’t allow her to be in a relationship, but for her, she doesn’t need a relationship. All she needs is money, and she got it.
10. Song: I Feel It Coming
You've been scared of love and what it did to you
You don't have to run, I know what you've been through
Just a simple touch and it can set you free
We don't have to rush when you're alone with me
As the last song on the album, “I Feel It Coming” serves as the solution to all the disarray and emotional madness on the album. Instead of using the dark past of this woman as a means to not be together, Abel finds a way to offer comfort. He knows first hand what the woman has been through, and he wants to fix that, telling her that she “doesn’t have to run.” He believes that once this girl gets together with him, she will be “set free.” When he says “We don't have to rush when you're alone with me,” it shows the change in heart that he had from the beginning of the album as he is no longer wanting these emotionally rushed one night stands, and now wants to take his time to form a good and trustworthy relationship.