The Weeknd has ushered R&B into the digital future. Since his early days in the internet underground — where Soundcloud, BandCamp and free mixtapes determine the winners — the singer born Abel Tesfaye has championed a grim and narcotized style. Compared to the glittery sheen and champagne corking of our fathers’ R&B, Tesfaye’s music is a far more serious — and sinister — artform. The Weeknd’s tracks are less about the party, and more about the empty avenues such a lifestyle leads to. From the beginning, The Weeknd’s music has been far too barbed and unsavory for mainstream success. Or so it seemed. A Grammy win and platinum level sales have since put such assumptions to bed.
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