New Music: The Weeknd

May 8th, 2011, byJeremy Freed

No one in the music scene knows much about Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd (sic), but they know this: the kid’s got something special. Back in March, The Weeknd, a Toronto-based R&B performer, self-released a debut album called “House of Balloons,” offering it (in an increasingly prevalent trend right now in new music) as a free download from his Web site.

The album is a collection of velvet-smooth R&B-infused slow-jams chronicling late night happenings in clubs, hotel rooms and after hours parties. Rather than approaching it in the conventional “sippin’ in the VIP” sense, Tesfaye’s lyrics are heavy with somber ambiguities and harsh realities that daylight brings to the after hours crowd.

In the weeks and months since “House of Balloons” dropped, The Weeknd has become a bona fide Internet sensation, gaining rave reviews from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone as well as the New York Times and the Guardian. Drake is a fan and is rumored to be producing The Weeknd’s second album.

The strangest part about all this is that, despite attention from media around the world and a healthy following on Twitter, The Weeknd has yet to give an interview or play a public show. Some speculate that this is a shrewd marketing move — that The Weeknd is building up buzz to a fever pitch before stepping out into the world. Whatever the reason, when he does appear, you’re likely to be hearing a lot more about him.

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Last modified: May 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm