Last week, the internet was buzzing with holiday specials, expensive advertisements, as well as the latest mixtape from a young Canadian producer/artist tentatively titled The Weeknd.
Rarely do prominent music sites spend time critiquing mixtapes, (unless they are from well-known artists) but Echoes of Silence, (the last of three mixtapes the artist has released this year), apparently was worth the listen and had critics jumping at the chance to brand the singer the next R&B star of 2012.
Before taking a thorough listen to any of the artist’s music, my only connection to him or his music was through his association with Drake. And judging from my disappointment with Drake’s latest album, Take Care, I was not expecting to be very impressed by the artist’s work.
And my expectations were somewhat confirmed after hearing a cover version he did of Michael Jackson’s rock-infused tune “Dirty Diana,” which appears as the FIRST song off The Weeknd’s mixtape.
While there were a number of thoughts rumbling through my mind as I took in the the daunting, synthesized track, the most repetitive thought of mine was that this kid truly has a lot of confidence for even attempting to cover anything from the King of Pop. Many well-known artists don’t even try to cover any of Jackson’s material unless they are doing a tribute or highlighting their vocal skills on Youtube.
But, then again I thought just because he has the guts to cover the tune does not mean its going to measure up to the original. And I’m not always a fan of artists who try to completely change cover tunes without any regard for the original.
Also, since “Dirty Diana” is one of my favorite MJ songs, suffice it to say, The Weeknd did not earn any points with me. But, as the old saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover.
Once I got over my criticism of “Dirty Diana” and started to really listen to more of the mixtape, I found that there are some noteworthy tracks on Echoes of Silence that compliment both the artist’s vocal and producing ability.
The Weeknd takes his listeners on a dark, captivating journey through love and lust, especially on songs such as “Outside” and “Next” all while pouring out his soul through his high pitched, somewhat Michael Jackson-esque influenced vocal techniques.
On “Next” he says, “I might be 21/ but I got memories to prove/That I’ve seen your kind before/ And I know exactly what you want,” which points out his youthful presence, but also suggests that he’s not going to let age stop him from doing what he wants to do musically.
And so far, the unique spin he is putting on R&B seems to be working in his favor.
Complex magazine rated his second mixtape, House of Baloons one of the best albums of 2011.
If there was anything unpredictable about R&B music this year, it was the electro-minimalistic and creative sounds of The Weeknd.
For some, his music may take a while to get used to.
At first, it may remind you of the type of music you would hear in a Hot Topic store or while in a club doped up on Ecstasy.
But, one thing is for sure, The Weeknd won’t leave you disappointed after a trip through his inner most thoughts.
Worth a Listen: Echoes of Silence, Montreal, Next