If you’ve been following the Dose since its inception, you know that one of the most talked about up-and-coming artists we’ve covered is The Weeknd. While this deeply emotional, pseudo R&B crooner’s popularity has been soaring in the blogosphere and his hometown of Toronto, he remains widely undiscovered. More importantly, of the select group of people who are aware of his existence, only a small percentage of that group fully comprehends The Weeknd’s significance to the music industry (and to hip-hop). When The Rolling Stone labels someone an “Artist to Watch,” it generally indicates that it is a good time to pay attention. And yet, still, the people sleep. He is going to be a big deal. He is going to be voluminous. If for no other reason than to be able to boast to your friends of your incredible ability to consistently break new artists ahead of the majority (or before this particular one blows up on some collaboration radio smash with Drake, which will happen) I plead with you: wake up and pay attention!
*EDIT* The Weeknd is now featured on Drake’s Crew Love and the link-sheeping (mass-sharing) has begun. You are now, officially, behind the ball. We tried to warn you. Don’t worry, we still love you. You can still be one of the first to recognize the long-overdue future wave of Chicago hip-hop (sup, Vic Mensa of Kids These Days, BJ the Chicago Kid, Omen). *EDIT*
So who, exactly, is The Weeknd? Why is he does so deliberately ride the struggle bus of spelling? His real name is Abel Tesfaye, and he’s the latest 20 year-old to come out of Toronto. You may have heard of his fellow T.Dot representative, Drake; I heard he is of mild popularity in certain suburban parts of New Mexico. Well, Abel’s XO crew has already affiliated itself with Drake’s own label imprint, October’s Very Own. Tesfaye had been around for a little while but, with the unbelievable success of his debut mixtape, House of Balloons (released in March 2011), he generated enough of a fan following to completely sell out his first live show. As if that was not impressive enough, upon watching videos of the performance, you can tell that this guy’s fans mean business–they knew every single word to every single song. Again, at the time of this article’s release , the artist has released exactly one mixtape with an underwhelming nine songs on it. To generate such a loyal and attentive fan base with a mere nine song mixtape is impressive, to say the least.
The question remains, if he is such a big deal, why is he still largely unacknowledged? The answer lies in his team’s ingenious marketing strategy. Up until this point, The Weeknd and his XO crew have done a fantastic job of (not) marketing the rising star. I would refer to it as a guerilla strategy, but that would not be 100% accurate. Allow me to explain. The man has yet to give a single interview and has even forced fans to delete photos of him in order to maintain his mystique. While this approach certainly alienates the affected individual fans and reporters, his team understands that it is about the big picture. In the big picture, the more high quality music he releases, while simultaneously remaining behind closed doors, the more intense the interest surrounding him grows. The speculation is that, by keeping the artist relatively hidden from the media and fans, the buzz will only continue to strengthen. It has been working, too. More and more blogs are taking notice of Mr. Tesfaye, and we will all bare witness soon enough. My prediction is that, by the Summer of 2012, the major festivals (Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, etc) will have him booked on increasingly larger stages. Only time will tell.
I am excited to see which artists land his haunting voice on collaborations but, for now, we have to be content with the handful of songs he has made available. Download his critically-acclaimed House of Balloons mixtape and click on Weeknd in the artist cloud to see a few other tracks we have posted. Enjoy!