The Weeknd
April 3, 2011 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Unsigned 20-year-old R&B singer the Weeknd is what all the cool kids are talking about. Plus he gives away his music for free.
posted by JPowers (36 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
And worth every penny!
posted by cccorlew at 11:28 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is good, thanks.
posted by nzero at 11:30 AM on April 3, 2011


Plus he gives away his music for free.

And why is he unsigned again ?
posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone who is on the fence about this one, check out "What You Need".
posted by rollbiz at 12:00 PM on April 3, 2011


Awesome! Who would have thought R&B could ever be interesting again.
posted by sveskemus at 12:02 PM on April 3, 2011


There's already some backlash too. I liked the music, but then I am not a fan of R&B normally anyway.
posted by gemmy at 12:14 PM on April 3, 2011


I am apparently immune. It sounds like trip-hop slowed down to the point of boredom, imo.
posted by stifford at 12:18 PM on April 3, 2011


zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by robbyrobs at 12:27 PM on April 3, 2011


This is about as R&B as Adele, Mary J Blige, Amy Winehouse, Maxwell, or D'Angelo.

There are people making good R&B/Soul these days. They're just not marketed to children.
posted by dobbs at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


dobbs those links are amazing and worth a post of their own. Thanks!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And why is he unsigned again ?

Because you can make a decent living with music while giving it away for free and not being on a label. Crazy, I know.
posted by empath at 1:17 PM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


It sounds like trip-hop slowed down to the point of boredom, imo.


It's sounds like dubstep backported to R&B to me.
posted by empath at 1:21 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


dobbs, I liked every single one of your examples, but I think you're missing the mark. It's quality music, but really, there's not much new or exciting about any of it. Why should it be marketed to "children"? Weeknd may be "trip-hop slowed down to the point of boredom" or "dubstep backported to R&B," but at least it's something different.

There are a lot of bands that play the exact same style of music as say, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Doors, or what have you. They may be very good. But they're certainly not very interesting, and even if it was marketed to young people it doesn't mean it would catch on.
posted by hafehd at 1:38 PM on April 3, 2011


The Weeknd is a group, not a he: Singer Abel Tesfaye and producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo (according to pitchfork).
posted by hototogisu at 1:51 PM on April 3, 2011


Nice link!

Also: are we really going to do the thing where we act indignant and surprised that R&B has, indeed, split into several subgenres over the decades, and had the audacity to take on other genres?

At some point, I need to continue my massive 80's to 90's R&B subgenre series.
posted by yeloson at 2:02 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


@yeloson Broken link alert! I'd love to see that series, if you please
posted by Lisitasan at 2:09 PM on April 3, 2011


Yeah, I thought dubstep as well.

Here's another for SmileyChewtrain.

On preview, hafehd, I don't think it should be marketed to children. My point is that because The Weeknd is marketed to the young (it's only available online, for starters), its target market is gonna call it whatever it's being called. In this case: R&B, which it isn't.

I've never understood the incessant need to try and keep rebranding R&B and Soul while not finding a new term. There's nothing wrong with the way those genres sound, they're just not a dominant genre anymore. There is no true Soul singer today who moves units like Otis Redding did, or R&B artist as familiar to listeners as Aretha Franklin was in her day. Essentially, the genre has vanished from the airwaves, which is why no large labels release any R&B records.

When other genres change to such a degree that they don't sound like their progenitors anymore, people don't insist that they're still their forefathers. R&B is not Blues. Rock and Roll is not R&B. Punk is not Rock and Roll. Hardcore is not Punk. It may be stupid to some people that there are so many subgenres or offshoots of Rock (Alternative, Math Rock, Indie, Post-Rock, Shoegazer, Slowcore, Emo, Metal, etc.), but each of those terms does their job in classifying the music that fits them--and sure, some bands may fit into more than one group.

But radio-programmers and record-promoters cannot leave R&B alone. They keep lumping all kinds of music into the genre, which does nobody any good. If they'd just come up with a term that's suitable they'd be able to market it fine--instead, they've just watered down a previously good term. Saying you like R&B these days doesn't define anything at all; it's a useless declaration. I'd wager that most people who consider Candi Staton R&B probably don't think too highly of The Weeknd or if they do, they certainly don't think that the two are the same genre.

I have nothing against The Weeknd or Adele or D'Angelo. I just don't think they're R&B.

Here's yeloson's corrected link.
posted by dobbs at 2:10 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there any place this is streaming? I'm not going to download the next over-hyped great white r&b hope unless I can listen to a stream on his netlabel page.
posted by fuq at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2011


Are the Beatles and Slipknot both Rock and Roll, dobbs?
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2011


Also, I don't want it if it has wobbly-bass. I'm tired of wobbly-bass.
posted by fuq at 2:24 PM on April 3, 2011


"R&B", "Jazz", "Rock&Roll", "Hip-Hop", "Soul" and "EDM" (electronic dance music) are all what I'd consider umbrella genres which have a lot of room for innovation and exploration underneath them, and I don't think you can put any of them in a time capsule and say that if it doesn't sound like it did when I was 14 and first heard it, it's not that genre any more.
posted by empath at 2:29 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's sounds like dubstep backported to R&B to me.

I'm not sure I agree (insufficient "wooOOB wooOOB"), but I really hope "backported" catches on as a way of talking about genre feature borrowing.


[Rant about "R&B" and historical accuracy]

The thing is, there are more precise names for a lot of R&B offshoots. If you just want to make a distinction between pre- and post-disco stuff, there's "contemporary" and "classic R&B." If you want to get even more precise, you can talk about Neo Soul or New Jack Swing or... oh god, I'm dating myself here, but I'm sure producers and musicians and music nerds in the audience haven't quit coming up with specific names for specific styles that Those Damn Kids These Days are listening to. I'm not up to speed on them, but that's because I'm not involved anymore — not even as a fan.

The real issue is, fans are always going to be more precise about genre than non-fans. It's the same thing within... well, let's say hardcore, to use one of your examples. A serious fan will be able to talk your ear off about oldschool NY versus oldschool DC versus straightedge versus thrash versus whatever — but someone who doesn't listen to any of it, as likely as not, will just lump it all back together with "punk" and be done with it.

When someone on the radio talks about "R&B," or "rock," or "punk," they're doing it for the benefit of casual listeners, people who aren't serious fans. But that doesn't mean that the serious fans won't get much, much more precise — and it's a little weird to compare general-audience terminology in a genre you don't follow with serious-fan terminology in a genre you do.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:30 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd wager that most people who consider Candi Staton R&B

I've always considered her house.

Some other people might consider her gospel.

Genres are so slippery.
posted by empath at 2:32 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


insufficient "wooOOB wooOOB"

Dupstep didn't have that at first. It was just slowed down 2 step garage, at first. The wobble came when D&B djs and fidget house djs started picking it up.
posted by empath at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2011


I think the links are still messed up -- the "cool" link goes to Rolling Stone.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:36 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


empath, of course they are. But only one is Pop music and only one is (Nu) Metal. I'm not trying to put anything in a time capsule, I'm commenting that it's odd that R&B of the past two decades or so does not really have any common subgenres, with the exception of "contemporary R&B" which is pretty much useless or soon will be. Even at its height as a genre, it had sub genres (though many of them were geographic).

Genres are so slippery.

Which is why I said, "People who consider her R&B". She also made disco records.

I'm saying genres are useful for categorizing things, marketing things, and discussing things. But when you dilute a term so that it literally can mean "anything a black person sings" you make it useless. You're disagreeing with that?

fuq, the "cool" link has a soundcloud embed.
posted by dobbs at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2011


I'm saying genres are useful for categorizing things, marketing things, and discussing things. But when you dilute a term so that it literally can mean "anything a black person sings" you make it useless.

R&B has always been that to an extent, even at its height.
posted by empath at 2:43 PM on April 3, 2011


Hi Dobbs - thanks for the link fix.

Saying you like R&B these days doesn't define anything at all; it's a useless declaration.

That was becoming true in the 80's though, when you'd go into the store and all "black music" would end up under R&B ("Geto Boys is R&B? Really? Next to Gerald Levert?"). I feel like what often gets dubbed "Neo Soul" is what we used to call R&B in the late 80's and 90's anyway.

All that said, a bigger problem over the last 10 years has been the destruction of black radio stations where, at least, if you're looking for R&B and Soul, etc., you got a good chance to hear the current music and a lot of the older music as well - to see the links and changes.

I'm not particularly interested in policing the terms, though. I know the stuff I like, and the stuff I don't like, and the only thing is finding more of what I like as new stuff comes out. (Hell, right now I'm having a hard time finding soul mixes on mixcrate, because house DJ's keep labeling their mixes "soul", which is nothing like what I'm looking for.)
posted by yeloson at 2:48 PM on April 3, 2011


On the bright side, he's not doing something that obviously fits in a genre but getting all bent out of shape if we don't use his special little term to describe what it is that he's doing.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:50 PM on April 3, 2011


I dunno. Find me one person who would call Death "R&B."

Okay, but seriously. You're basically right — what "R&B" does mean is "Music marketed to [a certain demographic subset of] black people." But that's not surprising, because (as empath is hinting at) it was coined as a marketing term by record labels and radio stations. It's a Billboard chart, a category of radio station, and an instruction for the guy who stocks the shelves in the record store, and oh by the way there are also a few stylistic features there.

If you want to compare apples and apples, compare "R&B" with "Classic Rock" or "Adult Contemporary," which play the same role — demographic descriptor first, genre name second — and which are just as vague. Or compare among the precise genre names that are more useful to fans and less useful to marketers, so that you're weighing ones like "Philly soul" or "New jack swing" against ones like "Grunge" or "Math rock."
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:01 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


But that's not surprising, because (as empath is hinting at) it was coined as a marketing term by record labels and radio stations.

That was why i put it in the same category as 'EDM', which like 'Electronica'(in the 90s) and 'Techno'(in the 80s) is a marketing term that encompasses a bunch of different scenes and musical styles that nobody actually making or listening to the music really uses. R&B was always kind of a fake-y marketing category more than a distinct genre.
posted by empath at 3:09 PM on April 3, 2011


I had three paragraphs but basically: R&B is a real genre of music. The Weeknd is okay. To Pitchfork and The Village Voice, this is not better than R&B.
posted by Danila at 3:10 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like it. Haven't really been trying to keep up with new music recently, so I probably would've missed it if it hadn't been a FPP.
posted by codacorolla at 4:13 PM on April 3, 2011


Big ups to this new self-released free music movement. I've got such a crush on Dominique Young Unique and her two "mixtapes", both free, are freakin' awesome booty-shakin rap albums.
posted by fungible at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2011


Also, sort of reminds me of Gayngs. I think if you liked the stuff in the OP you may like them too.
posted by codacorolla at 4:18 PM on April 3, 2011


[Rant about "R&B" and historical accuracy]

I had three paragraphs but basically: R&B is a real genre of music.


Considering R&B is a shortening of the phrase "''rhythm'n'blues'', which was first coined by then writer Jerry Wexler in Billboard magazine in 1946 and adopted by said magazine to replace the phrase "race records" in 1949, it's an anachronym which means everything'n'nothing, or rather, whatever the person writing it wants it to mean.
posted by y2karl at 8:40 AM on April 4, 2011


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