View All Articles | Back to Previous Page

September 30, 2013 4:12 pm

Kiss Land: The Weeknd’s Major Label Debut

By MOAM Staff, Photo Credit: Album Cover by Abel Tesfaye

Comments (0) | Log in or register to post comments

The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye first appeared on critics’ radar with a stunning series of (free) mixtapes, House of BalloonsThursday and Echoes of Silence, in 2011. His dark blend of atmospherics and hooks resonated strongly with the underground R&B and hip-hop scene. These mixtapes led to an unprecedented headlining performance on the final day of the Coachella music festival in 2012 as reported by The Los Angeles Times. Collaborations with some of hip-hop’s biggest names soon followed, as Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Lil Wayne all featured the vocalist on tracks over the next two years.

In 2012, The Weeknd signed with Universal Music Group subsidiary, Republic Records. The deal appointed him executive producer of his own work, and formed a strategic partnership with his production company, XO to develop new talent. The first cooperative project, official release to his mixtape series, took place in November of that year. The three LPs were released as a box set entitled Trilogy. Thanks to the Republic deal, Tesfaye expanded his already lush sound palette with the help that only serious commercial backing could provide.

The advantages of having access to a state of the art recording studio shine through on album opener “Professional.” The layering of sounds and vocal multitracking gives the song a depth previously unavailable to the bedroom producer. According to Popmatters, Illangelo, the producer who worked with him throughout his trilogy of mixtapes, is absent on the LP. New collaborator DannyBoyStyles faithfully replicates the reverb-soaked kicks and moody washes that are so closely associated with The Weeknd’s sound.

In an interview with Complex magazine, the musician reveals the many influences that affected him during the recording of Kiss Land. Primarily, he sees himself as unbound by the R&B category. Noting that although his “style of singing” is R&B, his songwriting, production and “the environment around those vocals are not inspired by R&B at all.”  He sees himself as a singer in the style of Michael Jackson or Prince, with production profoundly influenced by trip-hop’s blunted beats and cinematic vistas. He credits pioneers of the genre Portishead directly, even going so far as to emulate the drums on the UK band’s track “Machine Gun” on his own “Belong to the World.”

The artist’s major label debut is bringing a whole new demographic of listeners to the Canadian artist, making him a household name. The lavish new productions and label budget have evened the playing field with his peers, but only time will tell if he can compete for the long haul.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Agent Provocateur Christmas

featured article

A Glance at MOAM's Stars

Need more of your favorite stars?

-- Select a MOAM Star --