Despite ballin’ with Drake and releasing a trilogy of critically-acclaimed mixtapes, The Weeknd’s still a relatively unknown name outside of R&B circles and online music press. That looks set to change with the release of his first studio album, Kiss Land, this August. The rising superstar embraced drugs and groupies on the album’s twisted title track, but that was just a warm up for what’s obviously the real lead single, “Belong To The World.”
The song’s been making headlines for using a sample of Portishead’s epic “Machine Gun” without permission (which is an asshole thing to do), but it sounds so good that it’s not hard to see why Tesfaye wouldn’t give it up. The end-of-the-world assault-rifle rattle is an exhilarating attack on the senses, and when lodged inside one of Tesfaye’s nihilistic productions, it’s as big and cinematic as any one of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi blockbusters. Visually, the music conjures up images of Blade Runner — until you remember that Blade Runner’s eerily serene soundtrack is the polar opposite of the apocalyptic onslaught of “Belong To The World.”
Lyrically, Tesfaye’s back at it again with the groupies, but instead of the usual drug-fueled blow-and-gos of his previous songs, he’s now found himself in love with a trick for all the wrong reasons.
“I’m not a fool / I just love that you’re dead inside,” Tesfaye sings. “I’m not a fool / I’m just lifeless too.”
He struggles with the unhealthy union for most the song, before finally conceding to the old hip-hop adage, you can’t turn a ho into a housewife — not that he ever really wanted to, anyway.
“You belong to the loneliness of filling every need / You belong to the world,” he sings in a ghostly croon. “You belong to the temporary moments of a dream.”
It’s interesting to see Tesfaye peeling away another layer of his mysterious persona with what is probably the most commercial, crossover-ready record he’s done to date. Not that “Belong To The World” is commercial in the mainstream, Z100 sense of the term, but it is bigger, grander, and hookier than anything he’s ever done before. By the time it reaches its spine-tingling climax, it sounds positively arena ready.
Like The Weeknd himself, “Belong To The World” sounds destined for something, it’s just hard to say exactly what. But not knowing is half the fun, right?