The Weeknd has already made his forthcoming album Starboy a talking point based on the title alone.
Today, The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) took to Twitter to reveal the name of his next album and its cover shot by photographer Nabil.
Upon first glance at the artwork for Starboy, it’s evident that Tesfaye is making a statement. He’s showcasing more than just an image to illustrate a new album; he’s illustrating a new piece of himself. The persona beneath the dreads and his shyness. A closeup of his face shrouded in dark blue is the focus of the cover with the aforementioned trademark dreads cut off and a cross of diamonds hanging from his neck. Could this be his way of portraying the pressure that comes with being the ‘Starboy’ of today’s current pop culture music scene? And is it really that much of a burden? Maybe so.
His choice of the title Starboy can be interpreted as the steady elevation of his status over the past few years. His lyrics have become a more pointed narrative of his lifestyle as he lives them out, becoming the embodiment of his art that progresses as his life changes. To some degree this has hindered The Weeknd. What most hear during this progression are lyrics about partying and women, but this is what his lifestyle consists of with his growing status.
Starboy is poised to press fans who have followed The Weeknd since his indie days with the question of whether this title is him taking a jab at his elevated image – an image that his music sometimes reflects he doesn’t feel entirely comfortable donning. But also an image that he celebrates tenaciously in tracks like ‘King of the Fall’:
‘If you ain’t with me, motherfucker, you against me
If you ain’t complimenting, nigga, you offending
I been out here last year wasting hella time
XO is the only time invested
Them Fall shows every year like a birthday
And I’mma do it every year in my birthplace
And I ain’t been this gone since Thursday
I never said that I’d be sober in the first place’
And singing repeatedly in the hook:
‘And she gon’ give it up cause she know I might like it
She gon’ give it up cause she know I might like it’
That song came out in-between his second and arguably best album Kiss Land before Beauty Behind the Madness propelled his career. A bridge that bluntly shows you his growing ‘Starboy’ status almost as if he knew that Apple would heavily feature ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ in their next ad campaign and garner him comparisons to Michael Jackson. ‘King of the Fall’ even takes it a step further with its closing outro that’s repeated over and over with such disgusting, yet somehow still suave, bravado that I laughed the first time I heard it because I couldn’t believe it.
Compare that song to the lyrics off of Kiss Lands, ‘Love in the Sky‘ where his falsetto vulnerably and yet very confidently sings:
‘How does it feel?
Do you feel like you did before?
Do you see the world getting small?
How does it feel, are you free?
As for me, I’ve been getting grown
As for me, I’ve been getting old
As for me, I’ve been flying around the world
I’ve been killing these shows
But I’m always getting high
Cause my confidence low
And I’m always in a rush
Ain’t no time to fuck slow
And even if I try
It’s not something I would know
But I’m sure I’ll make you cum
Do it three times in a row
And I’m sure you would have left
But that pussy in control
Put that pussy in control
I got it in control’
The conundrum of Abel’s relationship with his public persona plays as a trademark of his appeal for some. And this dynamically contrasted cover for Starboy seems to perfectly fit within it. Without any other details of track titles, album length, or release date, anticipation of what the King of the Fall will have to say in his next line-up of songs begins just as excitedly as it was revealed this afternoon.