I pride myself in keeping my ear to the concrete and staying on top of the new hotness that YOU should be listening to. Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, Rock, by the time you catch up to what I’m listening to, I’ll already be on to the next one. It’s been like that since way back when I would make homemade mixtape comps and slang em to kids in high school for 4 bucks a pop. For some reason, I’m compelled to seek out the next great artist or the new banger that everyone else is gonna eventually catch up to later. I just gotta be on it first. Over the years my tastes have broadened and with new music coming out at such a rapid pace, it’s become harder and harder to listen to every buzzworthy mixtape or mp3 that comes down the pike. So a few weeks back, when I first caught wind of The Weeknd and their freebie release, House Of Balloons, I barely blinked an eye.
Sometimes the internet can work against an artist, especially for a music listener like myself. I’ve been trolling the internets too long to be sold some bs by a savvy PR rep. I was still in Nostalgia, ULTRA mode and the early comparisons between the two seemed contrived, another internet artist trying to ride the wave of a rising talent. But then again, people jumped to compare Frank Ocean to Drake so I know that’s just the way these things worked. Even though the hype kinda soured me towards this group, which I still knew virtually nothing about, I had to give in and give it a listen, just to see if all the buzz was warranted. I wasn’t impressed. First off, I couldn’t tell if the lead was a female or a guy just trying to sound like a female but whatever the case, those vocals threw me off and all the slow, ambient sounding music seemed like a hipster’s attempt to make shitty R&B records. It’s like Kid CuDi and Drake had a baby and that baby made an album produced by Trent Reznor and The-Dream’s lovechild (Excuse the wildly suspect and physically impossible analogy but I’m high off a sour doobie and that’s the best I can come up with). A few skips through (off center melodies centering on drugs, sex, booze, sex, repeat) and I was done. A really well produced demo of incomplete ideas with a lead singer who can’t really sing. They say this Weird&B hipster ish is better then Nostalgia, ULTRA? Ha! I felt vindicated knowing that I had once again outsmarted and outwitted the hypemachine. Not that I threw House Of Balloons in the trash or anything. We mp3 hoarders keep everything, even shit we don’t like (Word to the 2 gigs of random Bamma shit I’ve compiled from DirtyGloveBastard over the years).
Yesterday I was doing my usual internet surf move, looking for something off the radar to catch my eye and I came upon this…
It struck me as haunting but in a way that’s incredibly listenable. The chopped and screwed effect (Courtesy of Odd Future’s Mike G) really brings out the darkness in the production and allows the lyrics to move to the forefront. The slowed down version of House Of Balloons was good enough to force me to go back and revisit the album in it’s normal state and hear it in a way I was too stubborn to appreciate the first time around. For those who have already been rocking with The Weeknd from the jump, I salute you. Y’all got one on me. Consider this a thank you. I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement from the front man but for those who have yet to give it a spin, from a guy who prides himself on being ahead of the curve, The Weeknd is that next shit.