The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, is a warped R&B singer who, over the last seven months, has released two mixtapes, with a third on the way.
He hails from Toronto. You know who else is from Toronto? Drake, who is doing quite well at the moment.
Now, after word got out that the two Canadian comrades will collaborate on four tracks from Drake’s upcoming album “Take Care” — slated for release November 15 — the Weeknd is poised to be everywhere, even though, to date, he hasn’t sold a single piece of music.
Tesfaye has made both of his mixtapes, “House of Balloons” in March and “Thursday” in August, available for free download on his website.
New hip-hop artists — and, with his dense, blitzed-out sonics, the Weeknd is closer to hip-hop than most contemporary R&B — have adopted the free mixtape as their standard business strategy, making their money from touring instead.
But most musicians don’t move the numbers that the Weeknd does, and the fact that he hasn’t resold one of his tapes, like Drake did early in his career with “So Far Gone,” is notable.
It should pay off with these Drake collaborations. As of July 2011, Drake had sold almost 1.5 million copies of his debut “Thank Me Later,” and he’s been pretty much omnipresent on the radio since its release in June 2010.
Even more promising? Drake’s releases since then have been just as successful. He currently holds the #1 spot on the Billboard Rap chart with “Headlines,” which peaked at #15 on the Hot 100.
Lyrically, both artists tap into a similar vein of hungover malaise, and they favour layered instrumentation with an industrial sheen. They’re a perfect match, as evidenced by “The Zone,” a track from the Weeknd’s “Thursday” that features a splendid double-time verse from Drake.
So don’t be surprised when these soon-to-be-released songs — the Weeknd’s first available for purchase — make up financially for the late start.
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