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(I Apologize. I’ve been a little busy with this new semester at school and you don’t know how many times I’ve opened up WordPress and just didn’t have the energy or the right brain capacity to write anything. So I’m gonna post two things that have been in my “draft” box for more than a few weeks now, they are old but what else is new.)

Pretty much all year, I’ve had The Weeknd‘s much buzzed about Mixtape “House of Balloons”. While I was on a major Frank Ocean kick, I had only listened to a few songs from Weeknd. Than just a few weeks ago, Weeknd released yet another Mixtape “Thursday”. Naturally, I had to take a listen to both and see how they stacked up.

Both “House of Balloons” and “Thursday” offer something slightly different than the norm, but the first and lasting impression I got was simply… The-Dream. His voice sounds so similar to Dream’s high pitched wailing it was hard to shake the “copycat” thing out of my head, especially when Weeknd doesn’t do anything unique or creative with his voice to stand apart.

The production value on “Balloons” barely saves the album, it’s a little more alternative sounding with light guitar licks and ambient vibes. The production sets the mixtape apart from your typical R&B album, but his lyrics are basic 90’s R&B re-treads (I mean, he even says “knock boots” on one song). And a lot of the songs aren’t even memorable enough to want to listen again.
Follow up mix-tape “Thursday” is slightly better, there is a lot more work put into the production. Most of the songs feel a lot bigger and “epic”, there’s a lot of switching up with sounds within each track. However the lyricism and concepts are still really basic and uninspired.
Weeknd shows a little potential in the end, but he has to find some kind of stamp or unique thing he can offer if he wants to last in the industry.
House of Balloons 2.5 of 5
Thursdays 3 of 5
And when you listen to The-Dream‘s recent mixtape “1977”, you can pinpoint why Weeknd is a little underwhelming in comparison. Dream (who is using his birth name here Terius Nash) is really clever and funny with his wordplay, even if he doesn’t have the strongest voice or his songs are really all that deep. He still manages to be very entertaining with his music choices. It should be no secret that a bulk of this mixtape is an ode to ex-wife Christina Milian — with him talking about love lost, lies and mistakes — but even with the minimal production and lack of big hooks, this might be Dream’s best since 2009’s “Love vs. Money”.
Dream just has something, he’s not the best singer and not even the best writer, but there’s something about his confidence and his humor and his relate-ability that makes him the star he is. Simple tracks like “Wedding Crasher”, “Ghetto” and “Wake Me When It’s Over” are very simple in most all aspects, but while listening you get the sense that it’s more of a friend laying down a story than a singer making a hit for profit.
This is probably why he chose the mixtape format this time, it’s really personal and really speaks to his core fan base. The mixtape is a precursor to what will be his 4th studio album “The Love IV” (expected to be released this year), and it makes since that it’s so minimal, but hopefully he doesn’t go too big on the 4th studio release because this sort of stark production fits him well.
3.5 of 5