25 Magazine explores the buzz surrounding Drake-endorsed, Toronto R&B artist, The Weeknd, and his debut mixtape House of Balloons. Review and stream after the jump.
Have you ever been lifted? Not by any foreign substance, but through music?
If not—or even if so—Toronto upstart artist, The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, just may be your personal batch of the good stuff. Stamped with approval by fellow countryman, Drake who tweeted song lyrics from their track “Wicked Games” and a link to their mixtape, a plug by Rolling Stone, and a Tesfaye vocal and Jeremy Rose production combination that hasn’t been paired so seamlessly in R&B since Aaliyah and Timbaland; The Weeknd just might be on to something. We bang with it.
House of Balloons, the singer’s debut mixtape, wields a title that is a foreshadowing of where his music will take you—to the ceiling.
The nine-track EP brings you on a euphonious adventure, recalling 90s R&B, while adding a taste of futuristic funk and a touch of indie infusions. The second track, “What You Need,” speaks to this, opening with a looped sample, “Baby, now hold me close” – a line from Aaliyah’s hit song “Rock the Boat.” Hot and mellow, “What You Need” is perhaps the sexiest song on the mixtape.
It is sample heavy. House of Balloons experiments with an assortment of genres, exploring British punk rock group Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Happy House” on the title track “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” and doses of indie-rock duo Beach House on “Loft Music” and “The Party & The After Party”—two of our favorite songs on the mixtape. “The Party & The After Party” also makes a nod to The Dream with oohs, ahhs, and seductive crooning.
It is consistent. The tone of House of Balloons glides with little to no friction. All nine songs, collectively, tell a story of a weekend under the influence. The crowd is 21+. There are drugs, sex, money, love, lust, alcohol, parties, and fast cars—all on some spellbinding, fluid beats.
House of Balloons is dripping with drug sounds, which are whispered in each song’s rhythm and hinted at in the lyrics. “Even though you don’t roll, girl. You wanna be high for this,” Tesfaye croons in HOB’s opening track, candidly titled “High For This.” Need I say more?
House of Balloons is a soundtrack for the lives of many of our #dopeonastick constituents—and dope individuals in general—and it has been skillfully crafted, which everyone can appreciate.
The Weeknd’s music is mood evoking. It makes you feel like you’re where he is and are on what he’s on. It’s sexy, grown, silky and distorted. Tesfaye’s vocals are melancholy and sickly sweet, almost hypnotic. Where many production newcomers fall short, Rose delivers. The Weeknd is fresh and delicious.
XO til’ we overdose? We shall.
-Brittany T. Epps