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Hey fam!

It's been a while since I've posted or even browsed around here, life has been getting in the way lately. I just finished my essay for my University music class and it's about The Weeknd so I thought I'd post it here just to get some opinions and feedback! I'll be handing it in in about 4 hours though, so I probably won't use much of the feedback, but I'm mainly looking for opinions anyway! I want to see what actual fans of The Weeknd think of it, not just my professor, who doesn't even know The Weeknd ... I'm also trying to get better with essay writing, so any comments on my writing skills would be appreciated too!

It is titled:

The Weeknd: Resisting & Reinforcing Stereotypes

I hope you enjoy!

Abel Tesfaye, also known by his stage name, "The Weeknd", is a Canadian PBR&B singer, who rose to fame rather quickly and astonishingly over the past four years. From Scarborough, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, seventeen-year-old Abel dropped out of high school in 2006/2007 to pursue his dreams of being a musician. Over the next couple of years, Abel worked with producer Jeremy Rose, together creating the idea of a dark-themed R&B project under the name "The Weeknd". They made three tracks together; "What You Need", "The Morning", and, "Loft Music". These three songs were passed around via Internet blogs, social media websites, and word of mouth. The three songs began to draw attention on YouTube in late 2010, but perhaps what gave The Weeknd the most attention at the time was when the songs were posted on an Internet blog by Toronto rapper Drake himself. Although Abel stayed very hidden in the early stages of his career, over the next few months, attention to The Weeknd grew and Abel kept at work. He eventually released his game changing nine-track debut mixtape in March, 2011 titled, "House Of Balloons". Later in 2011, Abel released two more free mixtapes online; "Thursday" in August, and "Echoes Of Silence" in December. He compiled his three mixtapes into a three-disc album titled, "Trilogy", when he later signed with major record label "Republic Records" in September, 2012. This collection of thirty songs, along with a little bit of Drake's promotion, featuring Abel multiple times on his album "Take Care", brought Abel out of the shadows and marked the official beginning of his, soon to be, very successful and ongoing career.

Abel had quite an interesting come-up from the underground into the mainstream. The most unique feature of his rise was generally the way he brought himself up and out. In an article analyzing The Weeknd and online marketing, Paul Monno makes Abel's unique approach to the music scene clear, "His rise to success in the music industry since 2010 has been astonishing, but even more so is how this success was achieved. Abel was able to create his own image and grab the attention of major record labels through the use of social network sites and word of mouth; however, the story of The Weeknd's rise to success is not one of someone playing by the rules of online marketing and winning, but rather someone who bent the rules of the game to still come out on top." There seems to be a stereotypical way, almost a laid out route, for artists to bring themselves from the underground to the mainstream. Artists will, through marketing opportunities and connections, eventually sign with a major record label as quick as they can. Once signed, artists will let their record company do the promotion, which is a key part of becoming famous and successful in the music industry. This promotion is generally big, considering large record companies have tons of money to invest in promoting their artists. This promotion typically results in music videos, posters and merchandise, production and selling of music, booking concerts and events, etc. Record labels want to take their artists, have them try to make music with a "popular" sound, and promote them as much as possible, throwing their artist out into the world as much as they can, typically to make as much money off the artist as they can. Abel saw this far too used route, and decided he would do things differently. Abel said, in an interview with Complex Magazine, "That was my whole thing: I'm going to let the music speak for itself. I'll show them that this is what I do." Abel did not want a record label controlling his music and his image. He wanted his music to do the talking, so he went against the grain and took the record label's jobs of promotion and marketing into his own hands.

Most musicians would agree that the way Abel did things could be considered "the hard way", but it does not seem to be so hard when you have the talent that Abel possesses. Abel only released three songs on the Internet and already caught the attention of one of the most well-known and respected rap artists of his city. A milestone like that alone deserves major recognition, which Abel soon received. Through 2011, after Abel dropped his debut mixtape "House Of Balloons", he teamed up with Drake and ended up giving him a few songs. The songs were originally supposed to be on the mixtape, but Drake told him he really needed the songs for the sound for his upcoming album "Take Care", which was released at the tail end of 2011. Abel saw this as the best promotion deal he could ever dream of getting at the time, so he did not think twice about giving the songs to Drake. Abel's songs and voice appearing on a prominent rap artist's sophomore album was definitely a fantastic promotion tool for him. Drake later gave back to Abel and was featured on "The Zone", a track that appeared on The Weeknd's second mixtape "Thursday". It has been argued in online forums whether this crucial move of aligning with Drake was what brought The Weeknd fame. Though, without answers from Abel, it really is hard to say what Drake really did for him and his career, but critics seem to think that Abel could have made it regardless with such a unique and authentic image.

And indeed, The Weeknd does have quite a unique image in his realm and genre of music. Abel was heavily influenced by pop and R&B artists, such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and R. Kelly. Typically, R&B music explores themes of sex, romance, and love, but in more subtle, sweet, and innocent ways, creating a relaxing, mellow vibe to listen to. However, Abel wanted to resist the stereotypical R&B sound and add his own dark and vulgar twist to it. Abel comments on this in his interview with Complex Magazine, "I'm a huge fan of R. Kelly's. He's a musical genius, and probably the most prolific artist of the generation before mine. Some of the lines he says, if you say them in a normal voice, it's the most disgusting thing you could say to somebody. But I can say "pussy ass *****" in the most elegant and sexiest way ever, and it's accepted. If I can get away with singing that, I'm doing something right." Abel decided he wanted to make R&B music with an edge. Instead of going with the stereotypical sound that R&B brings to the table, Abel created a dark, drug-fuelled, womanizing character and image labeled "The Weeknd". Even Abel himself argues in his interview with Complex Magazine that his music is not necessarily typical R&B, or R&B at all, "The only thing R&B about my shit is the style of singing. My inspiration is R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, and Prince, for the vocals anyway. My production and songwriting, and the environment around those vocals, are not inspired by R&B at all." So what genre of music can The Weeknd's music be classified under? This new image Abel created was definitely something quite unique and unseen before, and it is argued that Abel alone created an entire sub-genre of music; PBR&B. PBR&B is an emerging alternative form of R&B, a genre very similar to R&B, differing in the sense that PBR&B tends to showcase darker, more explicit themes and content, and has influence from hip-hop. The term PBR&B was used for the first time on Twitter in March, 2011, the same year and month that "House Of Balloons" was released. Again, a milestone like creating a sub-genre should definitely not go unrecognized, as it is so rare. He resisted following the stereotypical genres and commercial forms of music to do his own thing.

Abel stuck with his unique image and began to make it prominent on the Internet. "The group had their theme of mystery, drugs, sex and partying, and were pushing it onto the community. Through their tweets, their music, and the images they posted on Tumblr, it was clear from the offset that The Weeknd had designed their group around a certain lifestyle and were going forward with that image." The "lifestyle" is the key part of The Weeknd's image. The "lifestyle" is what makes The Weeknd's image so unique, yet so appealing. Abel not only introduced a new type of sound, but this new sound seemed to match with the lifestyle of modern-day teenagers. How else could attention come to The Weeknd so quickly? The Weeknd brought a new, intriguing sound to the Internet, matching perfectly with the lifestyle that Internet users who found his music seemed to live. Catching the attention of Internet users was crucial for Abel's self-promotion. Paul Monno comments on Abel's use of online promotion in his article as well, "The Weeknd utilized the power online community members have in creating cultural value and attracting new members to their music. The group would go on to receive praise and awards for their music; it was the initial enthusiasm and effort of the music community that got the group attention. By releasing their music for free and relying on word of mouth to spread their name, the Weeknd took a major risk." Indeed it was a major risk. Releasing music for free is typically a horrible idea for an artist trying to be successful in the music industry, but Abel released his music for free mainly for promotional purposes. Releasing his music for free allowed listeners to explore The Weeknd's music with no risk and share the music easily. Relying completely on word of mouth was possibly his biggest risk of all, as he started from a completely unknown position in the music scene. People could have easily torn up his image if they were not feeling it, but Abel resisted the stereotypical way and put his trust in online community members, and it luckily worked out in his favor.

It was not only Abel's online promotion plan that was intelligent and out of the norm, but another important aspect to go alongside this was his strong air of mystery early in his career in his mixtape era. It is important to note that whilst working hard in 2011 on his three mixtapes, all the fans had was Abel's voice. They did not even know what he looked like, since they had never seen his face or any pictures of him. Abel slowly started to show himself to the public as "The Weeknd" more and more during 2011 because he was getting booked for shows, appearing in public with Drake and such, and his fans were also starting to find him on the Internet around the same time. The full-blown mystery started to end with the release of "Trilogy", but the air of mystery still stayed with him until the release of his debut album "Kiss Land". By the release of "Kiss Land", Abel's face was just as well known as his voice with concerts and music videos, and the fans knew a lot more about him than they did the previous year.

Where did the idea of such full-blown mystery come from? Initially, Abel was insecure and "camera shy", as he would say. He hated how he looked in pictures and decided he would let the music do all of the talking. The mystery was never really planned, but it ended up being a very smart move on Abel's part. Paul Monno comments on the importance of Abel's double persona, "Their anonymity online also played another major part with creating an authentic image of the group. In an industry where having an authentic image is paramount to an artist's success, hip-hop artists constantly try to secure their authenticity with their listeners. For a new 20-year-old rapper who wanted to create a persona of partying, excess drinking, drug-taking and womanizing, efforts had to be made to ensure that his private life and professional life remained separate to make certain no contradictory information could be leaked. No awkward high school photos on Tumblr, and no tweets about staying home and eating pizza on a Friday night could be released as to break this authentic image. However, the separation of personal and professional personas on the blogosphere can be difficult, and members often resort to blurring the line between each. Yet, by ensuring that their identity was kept a mystery online, and that their tweets and Tumblr posts remained focused on the music, users were not able to doubt the authenticity of their art. The band's Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube posts didn't reveal anything that would take attention away from their music, or contradict anything they rapped about in their songs." By splitting his identity into himself, Abel, and his musical character, "The Weeknd", Abel allowed himself to discreetly promote his music through the Internet and social media, as well as remaining hidden. He kept his personal life completely separate from his musical character, allowing him to use the air of mystery to his advantage. The key thing to understand about the advantage is that mystery creates curiosity. So, it was only natural that as more music was released, the mystery grew, and thus, the curiosity of the fans grew. An artist's image can get old and become timeworn, especially when artists use the stereotypical amount of promotion from record labels, but an artist's image can be preserved for longer if it has a mysterious vibe. Mystery surrounding "The Weeknd" was so strong during his mixtape era that fans in online forums were almost fiending for more of his music and more information about him. Who would have thought resisting the stereotypical methods of publicity could be so rewarding?

The mystery surrounding "The Weeknd" eventually started to die down as his popularity grew, but Abel saved his resources. He eventually got to a point where he could not really hide who he was anymore without hindering the success of his career, but there was no reason to let the mystery within the music die. We see this with the title of his debut album "Kiss Land" released in September 2012. As listeners of his music already knew, The Weeknd's music is filled with dark and explicit content, so why would he give his album such a sweet and innocent name? To, again, resist stereotypes. In his interview with Complex Magazine, Abel talks about the meaning behind the title, "When I think about "Kiss Land", I think about a terrifying place. It's a place I've never been to before that I'm very unfamiliar with. That's what "Kiss Land" is to me, an environment that's just honest fear. I don't know who I am right now and I'm doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I'm not familiar with. To me, it's the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I'm feeling. "Kiss Land" is like a horror movie. I didn't want to call it "Dark World" or something so generic. When I put "Kiss Land" out, everyone was like, "What the hell? This is going to be corny. It's going to be all lovey-dovey." But that's what I want. I want them to be underwhelmed. I'm all about surprises. If you watch a horror movie and it's called "Kiss Land", it's probably going to be the most terrifying thing you've ever seen in your life." Abel wanted a title that meant something to him, as well as something unique instead of something generic like "Dark World". He resisted the stereotypical way of putting the concept right in your face, and instead kept the mystery alive and tried to throw off the listeners with a more creative title. Like he said, the goal was for it to be underwhelming and unexpected. The underwhelming sound of the name allowed the dark theme of the music to be a surprise to the listeners.

Abel's methods of self-promotion and self-marketing, his creation of PBR&B, his air of mystery, and his debut album title are all clear of examples of how he resisted stereotypical methods of the music industry in the real world. Generally, to become famous in the music industry, artists will create an image for themselves in a pre-existing genre, avoiding using too mystery and abstraction, allowing their record company to do as much promotion of their image as possible. The Weeknd lies at the other end of the spectrum, doing almost the complete opposite of this stereotypical way of doing things in the music industry. Uniqueness and authenticity can, in some cases, be a great thing, but being too different can be detrimental. It is safe to say that The Weeknd is arguably one of the most unique artists of the new millennium, but his popularity in the music scene now in 2015 is undeniable. So how is this not a contradiction? Abel may resist many stereotypes in the real world, but the content of his music and lyrics tends to reinforce certain cultural stereotypes, mainly those involved with sexuality and gender roles. This allows him to be a unique artist with relatable content.

Nowadays in music media, sexualization of music, lyrics, and images has been prevalent over the past decade. The term "sexualization" refers to making something sexual. As they say, "sex sells". This concept now seems quite obvious with all of the sexual content being progressively seen more and more in music, lyrics, and music videos and images. Abel was aware of this "sex sells" concept from the very beginning of his career, and he took advantage of it. Abel realized early in his music career that sexualizing the music and his image would increase the chances of his music having a more popular, mainstream appeal, "People like hot girls, so I put my music to hot girls and it just became a trend." This idea was the basis of the formulation of the content that is now present in The Weeknd's music. Abel reinforced the "sex sells" stereotype by using it as his strategy. The sexualization of The Weeknd's music is seen in many places in his image and music, including album covers and promotional posters/images, the content of the lyrics, music videos, etc. The most prominent example of the sexualization of The Weeknd's image and music, aside from lyrical content, which is sexualized almost entirely, is the album cover of his debut mixtape "House Of Balloons". The picture on the cover displays a woman in a bathtub in a helpless position, with black and white balloons raining on top of her. It is also important to note that the balloons are covering some important physical features, such as the face. The body part that stands out most is her breast. This album cover alone presents quite a few examples of the sexualization of The Weeknd's music, as well as reinforces sexual stereotypes.



But how did Abel know this strategy would work? Where did he even get this idea? Where did any of us get these types of ideas? Anyone in high school or beyond should have been educated about the certain sexual attitudes, gender roles, etc. that are present in North American societies and cultures. However, just because certain ideas of sexuality have been established in our society, it does not mean that they are morally correct and should continue to be held. In fact, some argue that the established ideas of sexuality in our society are heavily skewed and wrong. Our established ideas of sexuality in our society can be defined more correctly as stereotypes, rather than facts. In an academic article, written by Tom ter Bogt and his colleagues, examples of sexual stereotypes in our society and cultures are explained, "Media may present a rather unrealistic and skewed account of human romance and sexuality leading some commentators to raise concerns that youth media, with their formulaic portrayal of gender roles and sexuality, is developing and sustaining stereotypical gender-role schemas; for example, ideas that, for women, looks and sexiness are all important and, for men, sexual obsession is normal, and sexual prowess an asset. Negative correlates and consequences of sexualized gender stereotyping have been shown to range from confining females and males into traditional work roles; self-objectification among girls and women, resulting in lower self-esteem and higher depression; and acceptance of violence against women and perpetuation of the rape myth. It is, therefore, timely to explore the link between media exposure and preferences and sexual attitudes among teenagers developing their attitudes and worldviews." These stereotypical ideas are not healthy and do not promote healthy sexual ideas and choices. Those that argue that our established ideas of sexuality are skewed tend to blame the media. As we have seen in the last quote, Tom ter Bogt is among them. He further discusses the media's role in creating these sexual stereotypes in his article, "Over the last three decades, research has found that media entertainment affects the development of sexual attitudes among adolescents. While young people, to a certain extent, acquire knowledge of sexuality from their parents, and even more so, from their same-sex peers, the media has been identified as an important source of knowledge for the physical, social, and emotional aspects of dating, romance, and sex."

The media has for sure become an important, widespread, and easily accessible source for knowledge. The media is the best outlet for an individual to share information with other people. Some seem to think that the media has been taken advantage of for its widespread accessibility to spread controversial information. But how does this relate to The Weeknd? Adolescent teenagers and young adults tend to consume the most media on a regular basis. This age group just so happens to be the age group that The Weeknd's music pertains to. Since The Weeknd's music is immensely sexualized, it is a question of whether The Weeknd is reinforcing and spreading these skewed sexual stereotypes to adolescent teenagers and young adults or not, and whether it is purposeful or not. The question can be answered in P. Hall's academic article, which discusses sexualization in lyric content, "Music, for example, depicting a sex-driven male emotively pursuing an objectified female whose sole value is derived from her sexual behavior, hypersexuality, or sexual attractiveness, reinforces and perpetuates harmful stereotypes related to gender and sexuality. Similarly, music that commodifies a woman's body, rendering it the property of others and assigning value equal to its sexiness, may reinforce sexist gender roles and scripts related to the subordination of women in society." This is almost a spot-on description of the content present in The Weeknd's music. A lot of The Weeknd's music typically revolves around him, a sex-driven male, who pursues objectified women. These women are typically whores and strippers whose sole value is their sexual behaviour and appearance. According to P. Hall and his colleagues, the content present in The Weeknd's music seems to be the definition of harmful sexual stereotypes in our society, so The Weeknd definitely enforces sexual stereotypes that are common in our society. But is it purposeful? Well, there may not be an answer to that one. We can all assume that Abel is obviously conscious of his lyrical content, but it might most likely be the case that Abel has been hypnotized into thinking these sexual stereotypes are the norm, just like the rest of us.

In conclusion, The Weeknd is a prime example of an artist who resisted some stereotypes in one way, while reinforcing other stereotypes in other ways. Abel's approach to the music industry and his music career was very unique and out of the norm. He resisted the stereotypical methods of doing things in the music industry and took control of it all himself. Most artists try to find a label to sign to as quickly as possible to get their music career going and for financial purposes, but Abel did not even want to sign to a label at all. He believed he could do it all and make it by himself with his unique methods and authentic image. Eventually he signed to a label for only one reason: because his music career could not survive if he kept giving his music away for free, and he did not quite have the fan base to sell records on his own and make a living off it. Abel went as far as he could independently, and in the process, made legendary progress and achievements. As far as his lyrical content and image go, The Weeknd has heavily reinforced sexual stereotypes that are common in our North American societies, and continues to do so. It is rare to see one of The Weeknd's album covers and works of photography missing either a woman, nudity, or both. Partially, and sometimes fully, nude women are obviously present in most of his music videos as well. Abel has been known to hire pornstars for roles in music videos, promotional posters for his XO merchandise and clothing, and he has even produced porn films to be specially played on a big screen in the background during his concerts for his Kiss Land Tour. The majority of The Weeknd's lyrical content discusses dark topics, including drugs, partying, sex, etc. Among these dark themes, women, and the treatment of women, might possibly the darkest of all. Examples of themes from The Weeknd's lyrics include rape, gang rape, pressuring innocent women to do drugs, turning women from innocent girls to whorish drug fiends, encouraging women to cheat on their boyfriends, and more. These themes obviously project the unhealthy sexual stereotypes present in our society, and even though these themes and stereotypes can be quite explicit, reinforcing them has worked out in his favor.
 

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Was kind of excited to read but wasn't impressed. No offense - it could be because I know all of this stuff already.

It read like a Wikipedia entry on The Weeknd's career. Not much substantial analysis. Not many examples of the stereotypes he was contradicting or reinforcing. Comparing him to other artists that came out around that time would've been effective way to make some of your points. Some of the Weeknd's strategy comes from the rise of social media and the power of the internet in the music industry. It wasn't just the fact that he came up with this brilliant strategy - the way we consume music has completely changed since 2005.

The genre "PBR&B" is complete bullshit. PBR is a beer that white hipsters are known for drinking. R&B is the box that all black singers get put in. PBR&B is just a dumb way of categorizing black singers that white hipsters may listen to. Very, very weak way to categorize singers like Abel, FKA Twigs, Frank Ocean, etc. VERY WEAK. Not your fault or anything. You didn't invent the "genre".

I think if you dug deeper into the sexual themes and lyrics in Abel's work - in his albums - you would come to a different conclusion than you did. I always think it's a big red flag when someone claims that Abel has themes of rape in his music. Having a better understanding of feminism might have helped you in this regard. I don't blame you but I think you looked a lot of his work on the surface. Didn't analyze his themes and message as a whole.
 

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Use Tesfaye instead of Abel

Edit: Discuss the history of RnB throughout the 2000's to have a better convincing case as to why he changed the landscape. Think of your reader as someone who is from a foreign planet and has no idea what you're talking about.... with this you need to ensure you have every single detail to make a convincing argument. 

part 1
1. State why you're writing the essay
2.give historical background of artist
3. state his influence on current music today/current successes
Part2
4. give historical background of 2000s rnb music
5. What he did different then the other 2000s artist
Part 3
6. how his influence change the genre for good
7. Relate everything back to why you're writing the essay

Very rough outline 
 

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6urujot said:
Out of curiosity what are some alternatives that you would recommend. I suck at intros and conclusions.
What are you struggling with in regards to your intros? There are many ways to approach a conclusion tbh but saying what I said above is a way not to go about it.
 

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Try not follow suggestions which sound like "never" do this or "always" do that. They're usually made by people who're simply regurgitating what they heard from like a fucking grade school teacher with no idea why. There's a place for everything, and there are no rules, so try to rely on your intuition rather than other people's advice. This is the best piece of writing advice (LOL talk about ironic) I can give you.
 

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Hey, fam!

It's been a while since I've posted or browsed around here; life has been getting in the way lately. I just finished my essay for my University music class, and it's about The Weeknd, so I thought I'd post it here to get some opinions and feedback! I'll be handing it in in about 4 hours, so I probably won't use much of the feedback, but I'm mainly looking for opinions anyway! I want to see what true fans of The Weeknd think of it, not just my professor, who doesn't even know The Weeknd ... I'm also trying to get better with essay writing, so any comments on my writing skills would be appreciated too!

It is titled:

The Weeknd: Resisting & Reinforcing Stereotypes

I hope you enjoy it!

Abel Tesfaye, also known by his stage name, "The Weeknd", is a Canadian PBR&B singer who rose to fame rather quickly and astonishingly over the past four years. From Scarborough, Ontario, just outside of Toronto, seventeen-year-old Abel dropped out of high school in 2006/2007 to pursue his dreams of being a musician. Over the next couple of years, Abel worked with producer Jeremy Rose, together creating the idea of a dark-themed R&B project under the name "The Weeknd". They made three tracks together; "What You Need", "The Morning", and "Loft Music". These three songs were passed around via Internet blogs, social media websites, and word of mouth. The three songs began to draw attention on YouTube in late 2010, but perhaps what gave The Weeknd the most attention at the time was when the songs were posted on an Internet blog by Toronto rapper Drake himself. Although Abel stayed very hidden in the early stages of his career, over the next few months, attention to The Weeknd grew, and Abel kept at work. He eventually released his game-changing nine-track debut mixtape in March 2011 titled "House Of Balloons". Later in 2011, Abel released two more free mixtapes online; "Thursday" in August and "Echoes Of Silence" in December. He compiled his three mixtapes into a three-disc album titled "Trilogy", when he later signed with the major record label "Republic Records" in September 2012. This collection of thirty songs, along with a little bit of Drake's promotion, featuring Abel multiple times on his album "Take Care", brought Abel out of the shadows and marked the official beginning of his, soon be, very successful and ongoing career.

Abel had quite an interesting come-up from the underground into the mainstream. The unique feature of his rise was generally how he brought himself up and out. In an article analyzing The Weeknd and online marketing, Paul Monno makes Abel's unique approach to the music scene clear, "His rise to success in the music industry since 2010 has been astonishing, but even more so is how this success was achieved. Abel was able to create his image and grab the attention of major record labels through the use of social network sites and word of mouth; however, the story of The Weeknd's rise to success is not one of someone playing by the rules of online marketing and winning, but rather someone who bent the rules of the game to still come out on top." There seems to be a stereotypical way, almost a laid-out route, for artists to bring themselves from the underground to the mainstream. Through marketing opportunities and connections, artists will eventually sign with a major record label as quickly as they can. Once signed, artists will let their record company do the promotion, which is a key part of becoming famous and successful in the music industry. This promotion is generally big, considering large record companies have tons of money to invest in promoting their artists. This promotion typically results in music videos, posters, merchandise, production and selling of Music, booking concerts and events, etc. Record labels want to take their artists, have them try to make Music with a "popular" sound, and promote them as much as possible, throwing their artists out into the world as much as they can, typically to make as much money off the artist as they can. Abel saw this far too used route and decided he would do things differently. Abel said, in an interview with Complex Magazine, "That was my whole thing: I'm going to let the music speak for itself. I'll show them that this is what I do." Abel did not want a record label controlling his Music and his image. He wanted his music to do the talking, so he went against the grain and took the record label's jobs of promotion and marketing into his own hands.

Most musicians would agree that the way Abel did things could be considered "the hard way", but it does not seem so hard when you have the talent that Abel possesses. Abel only released three songs on the Internet and has already caught the attention of one of his city's most well-known and respected rap artists. A milestone like that alone deserves major recognition, which Abel soon received. In 2011, after Abel dropped his debut mixtape "House Of Balloons", he teamed up with Drake and gave him a few songs. The songs were originally supposed to be on the mixtape, but Drake told him he needed the songs for the sound for his upcoming album "Take Care", which was released at the tail end of 2011. Abel saw this as the best promotion deal he could ever dream of getting at the time, so he did not think twice about giving the songs to Drake. Abel's songs and voice appearing on a prominent rap artist's sophomore album was a fantastic promotion tool for him. Drake later gave back to Abel and was featured on "The Zone", a track that appeared on The Weeknd's second mixtape "Thursday". It has been argued in online forums whether this crucial move of aligning with Drake was what brought The Weeknd fame. Though without answers from Abel, it is hard to say what Drake did for him and his career, critics seem to think that Abel could have made it regardless with such a unique and authentic image.

And indeed, The Weeknd does have quite a unique image in his realm and genre of Music. Abel was heavily influenced by pop and R&B artists, such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and R. Kelly. Typically, R&B Music explores sex, romance, and love themes, but in more subtle, sweet, and innocent ways, creating a relaxing, mellow vibe to listen to. However, Abel wanted to resist the stereotypical R&B sound and add his dark and vulgar twist to it. Abel comments on this in his interview with Complex Magazine, "I'm a huge fan of R. Kelly's. He's a musical genius and probably the most prolific artist of the generation before mine. Some of the lines he says, if you say them in a normal voice, it's the most disgusting thing you could say to somebody. But I can say "pussy ass *" in the most elegant and sexiest way ever, and it's accepted. If I can get away with singing that, I'm doing something right." Abel decided he wanted to make R&B Music with an edge. Instead of going with the stereotypical sound that R&B brings to the table, Abel created a dark, drug-fuelled, womanizing character and image labeled "The Weeknd". Even Abel argues in his interview with Complex Magazine that his Music is not necessarily typical R&B, or R&B at all, "The only thing R&B about my shit is the style of singing. I am inspired by R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, and Prince for the vocals. My production and songwriting, and the environment around those vocals, are not inspired by R&B at all." So, what genre of Music can The Weeknd's Music be classified under? This new image Abel created was something unique and unseen before, and it is argued that Abel alone created an entire sub-genre of Music; PBR&B. PBR&B is an emerging alternative form of R&B, a genre very similar to R&B, differing in the sense that PBR&B tends to showcase darker, more explicit themes and content, and has influence from hip-hop. The term PBR&B was used for the first time on Twitter in March 2011, the same year and month that "House Of Balloons" was released. Again, a milestone like creating a sub-genre should not go unrecognized, as it is rare. He resisted following the stereotypical genres and commercial forms of Music to do his own thing.

Abel stuck with his unique image and began to make it prominent on the Internet. "The group had their theme of mystery, drugs, sex, and partying, pushing it onto the community. Through their tweets, their Music, and the images they posted on Tumblr, it was clear from the offset that The Weeknd had designed their group around a certain lifestyle and were going forward with that image." The "lifestyle" is the key part of The Weeknd's image. The "lifestyle" is what makes The Weeknd's image so unique, yet so appealing. Abel not only introduced a new type of sound, but this new sound seemed to match with the lifestyle of modern-day teenagers. How else could attention come to The Weeknd so quickly? The Weeknd brought a new, intriguing sound to the Internet, matching perfectly with the lifestyle that Internet users who found his Music seemed to live. Catching the attention of Internet users was crucial for Abel's self-promotion. Paul Monno comments on Abel's use of online promotion in his article as well, "The Weeknd utilized the power online community members have in creating cultural value and attracting new members to their Music. The group would go on to receive praise and awards for their Music; it was the initial enthusiasm and effort of the music community that got the group attention. By releasing their Music for free and relying on word of mouth to spread their name, the Weeknd took a major risk." Indeed it was a major risk. Releasing Music for free is typically a horrible idea for an artist trying to be successful in the music industry, but Abel released his Music for free mainly for promotional purposes. Releasing his Music for free allowed listeners to explore The Weeknd's Music with no risk and share the Music easily. Relying completely on word of mouth was possibly his biggest risk of all, as he started from a completely unknown position in the music scene. People could have easily torn up his image if they were not feeling it, but Abel resisted the stereotypical way and put his trust in online community members, and it luckily worked out in his favor.

It was not only Abel's online promotion plan that was intelligent and out of the norm, but another important aspect to go alongside this was his strong air of mystery early in his career in his mixtape era. It is important to note that whilst working hard in 2011 on his three mixtapes, all the fans had was Abel's voice. They did not even know what he looked like, since they had never seen his face or any pictures of him. Abel slowly started to show himself to the public as "The Weeknd" more and more during 2011 because he was getting booked for shows, appearing in public with Drake and such, and his fans were also starting to find him on the Internet around the same time. The full-blown mystery started to end with the release of "Trilogy", but the air of mystery still stayed with him until the release of his debut album "Kiss Land". By the release of "Kiss Land", Abel's face was just as well known as his voice with concerts and music videos, and the fans knew a lot more about him than they did the previous year.

Where did the idea of such full-blown mystery come from? Initially, Abel was insecure and "camera shy", as he would say. He hated how he looked in pictures and decided he would let the Music do all of the talking. The mystery was never really planned, but it ended up being a very smart move on Abel's part. Paul Monno comments on the importance of Abel's double persona, "Their anonymity online also played another major part with creating an authentic image of the group. In an industry where having an authentic image is paramount to an artist's success, hip-hop artists constantly try to secure their authenticity with their listeners. For a new 20-year-old rapper who wanted to create a persona of partying, excess drinking, drug-taking and womanizing, efforts had to be made to ensure that his private life and professional life remained separate to make certain no contradictory information could be leaked. No awkward high school photos on Tumblr, and no tweets about staying home and eating pizza on a Friday night could be released as to break this authentic image. However, the separation of personal and professional personas on the blogosphere can be difficult, and members often resort to blurring the line between each. Yet, by ensuring that their identity was kept a mystery online, and that their tweets and Tumblr posts remained focused on the Music, users were not able to doubt the authenticity of their art. The band's Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube posts didn't reveal anything that would take attention away from their Music, or contradict anything they rapped about in their songs." By splitting his identity into himself, Abel, and his musical character, "The Weeknd", Abel allowed himself to discreetly promote his Music through the Internet and social media, as well as remaining hidden. He kept his personal life completely separate from his musical character, allowing him to use the air of mystery to his advantage. The key thing to understand about the advantage is that mystery creates curiosity. So, it was only natural that as more Music was released, the mystery grew, and thus, the curiosity of the fans grew. An artist's image can get old and become timeworn, especially when artists use the stereotypical amount of promotion from record labels, but an artist's image can be preserved for longer if it has a mysterious vibe. Mystery surrounding "The Weeknd" was so strong during his mixtape era that fans in online forums were almost fiending for more of his Music and more information about him. Who would have thought resisting the stereotypical methods of publicity could be so rewarding?

The mystery surrounding "The Weeknd" eventually started to die down as his popularity grew, but Abel saved his resources. He eventually got to a point where he could not really hide who he was anymore without hindering the success of his career, but there was no reason to let the mystery within the Music die. We see this with the title of his debut album "Kiss Land" released in September 2012. As listeners of his Music already knew, The Weeknd's Music is filled with dark and explicit content, so why would he give his album such a sweet and innocent name? To, again, resist stereotypes. In his interview with Complex Magazine, Abel talks about the meaning behind the title, "When I think about "Kiss Land", I think about a terrifying place. It's a place I've never been to before that I'm very unfamiliar with. That's what "Kiss Land" is to me, an environment that's just honest fear. I don't know who I am right now and I'm doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I'm not familiar with. To me, it's the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the Music because I want you to feel what I'm feeling. "Kiss Land" is like a horror movie. I didn't want to call it "Dark World" or something so generic. When I put "Kiss Land" out, everyone was like, "What the hell? This is going to be corny. It's going to be all lovey-dovey." But that's what I want. I want them to be underwhelmed. I'm all about surprises. If you watch a horror movie and it's called "Kiss Land", it's probably going to be the most terrifying thing you've ever seen in your life." Abel wanted a title that meant something to him, as well as something unique instead of something generic like "Dark World". He resisted the stereotypical way of putting the concept right in your face, and instead kept the mystery alive and tried to throw off the listeners with a more creative title. Like he said, the goal was for it to be underwhelming and unexpected. The underwhelming sound of the name allowed the dark theme of the Music to be a surprise to the listeners.

Abel's methods of self-promotion and self-marketing, his creation of PBR&B, his air of mystery, and his debut album title are all clear of examples of how he resisted stereotypical methods of the music industry in the real world. Generally, to become famous in the music industry, artists will create an image for themselves in a pre-existing genre, avoiding using too mystery and abstraction, allowing their record company to do as much promotion of their image as possible. The Weeknd lies at the other end of the spectrum, doing almost the complete opposite of this stereotypical way of doing things in the music industry. Uniqueness and authenticity can, in some cases, be a great thing, but being too different can be detrimental. It is safe to say that The Weeknd is arguably one of the most unique artists of the new millennium, but his popularity in the music scene now in 2015 is undeniable. So how is this not a contradiction? Abel may resist many stereotypes in the real world, but the content of his Music and lyrics tends to reinforce certain cultural stereotypes, mainly those involved with sexuality and gender roles. This allows him to be a unique artist with relatable content.

Nowadays in music media, sexualization of Music, lyrics, and images has been prevalent over the past decade. The term "sexualization" refers to making something sexual. As they say, "sex sells". This concept now seems quite obvious with all of the sexual content being progressively seen more and more in Music, lyrics, and music videos and images. Abel was aware of this "sex sells" concept from the very beginning of his career, and he took advantage of it. Abel realized early in his music career that sexualizing the Music and his image would increase the chances of his Music having a more popular, mainstream appeal, "People like hot girls, so I put my music to hot girls and it just became a trend." This idea was the basis of the formulation of the content that is now present in The Weeknd's Music. Abel reinforced the "sex sells" stereotype by using it as his strategy. The sexualization of The Weeknd's Music is seen in many places in his image and Music, including album covers and promotional posters/images, the content of the lyrics, music videos, etc. The most prominent example of the sexualization of The Weeknd's image and Music, aside from lyrical content, which is sexualized almost entirely, is the album cover of his debut mixtape "House Of Balloons". The picture on the cover displays a woman in a bathtub in a helpless position, with black and white balloons raining on top of her. It is also important to note that the balloons are covering some important physical features, such as the face. The body part that stands out most is her breast. This album cover alone presents quite a few examples of the sexualization of The Weeknd's Music, as well as reinforces sexual stereotypes.



But how did Abel know this strategy would work? Where did he even get this idea? Where did any of us get these types of ideas? Anyone in high school or beyond should have been educated about the certain sexual attitudes, gender roles, etc. that are present in North American societies and cultures. However, just because certain ideas of sexuality have been established in our society, it does not mean that they are morally correct and should continue to be held. In fact, some argue that the established ideas of sexuality in our society are heavily skewed and wrong. Our established ideas of sexuality in our society can be defined more correctly as stereotypes, rather than facts. In an academic article, written by Tom ter Bogt and his colleagues, examples of sexual stereotypes in our society and cultures are explained, "Media may present a rather unrealistic and skewed account of human romance and sexuality leading some commentators to raise concerns that youth media, with their formulaic portrayal of gender roles and sexuality, is developing and sustaining stereotypical gender-role schemas; for example, ideas that, for women, looks and sexiness are all important and, for men, sexual obsession is normal, and sexual prowess an asset. Negative correlates and consequences of sexualized gender stereotyping have been shown to range from confining females and males into traditional work roles; self-objectification among girls and women, resulting in lower self-esteem and higher depression; and acceptance of violence against women and perpetuation of the rape myth. It is, therefore, timely to explore the link between media exposure and preferences and sexual attitudes among teenagers developing their attitudes and worldviews." These stereotypical ideas are not healthy and do not promote healthy sexual ideas and choices. Those that argue that our established ideas of sexuality are skewed tend to blame the media. As we have seen in the last quote, Tom ter Bogt is among them. He further discusses the media's role in creating these sexual stereotypes in his article, "Over the last three decades, research has found that media entertainment affects the development of sexual attitudes among adolescents. While young people, to a certain extent, acquire knowledge of sexuality from their parents, and even more so, from their same-sex peers, the media has been identified as an important source of knowledge for the physical, social, and emotional aspects of dating, romance, and sex."

The media has for sure become an important, widespread, and easily accessible source for knowledge. The media is the best outlet for an individual to share information with other people. Some seem to think that the media has been taken advantage of for its widespread accessibility to spread controversial information. But how does this relate to The Weeknd? Adolescent teenagers and young adults tend to consume the most media on a regular basis. This age group just so happens to be the age group that The Weeknd's Music pertains to. Since The Weeknd's Music is immensely sexualized, it is a question of whether The Weeknd is reinforcing and spreading these skewed sexual stereotypes to adolescent teenagers and young adults or not, and whether it is purposeful or not. The question can be answered in P. Hall's academic article, which discusses sexualization in lyric content, "Music, for example, depicting a sex-driven male emotively pursuing an objectified female whose sole value is derived from her sexual behavior, hypersexuality, or sexual attractiveness, reinforces and perpetuates harmful stereotypes related to gender and sexuality. Similarly, Music that commodifies a woman's body, rendering it the property of others and assigning value equal to its sexiness, may reinforce sexist gender roles and scripts related to the subordination of women in society." This is almost a spot-on description of the content present in The Weeknd's Music. A lot of The Weeknd's Music typically revolves around him, a sex-driven male, who pursues objectified women. These women are typically whores and strippers whose sole value is their sexual behaviour and appearance. According to P. Hall and his colleagues, the content present in The Weeknd's Music seems to be the definition of harmful sexual stereotypes in our society, so The Weeknd definitely enforces sexual stereotypes that are common in our society. But is it purposeful? Well, there may not be an answer to that one. We can all assume that Abel is obviously conscious of his lyrical content, but it might most likely be the case that Abel has been hypnotized into thinking these sexual stereotypes are the norm, just like the rest of us.

In conclusion, The Weeknd is a prime example of an artist who resisted some stereotypes in one way, while reinforcing other stereotypes in other ways. Abel's approach to the music industry and his music career was very unique and out of the norm. He resisted the stereotypical methods of doing things in the music industry and took control of it all himself. Most artists try to find a label to sign to as quickly as possible to get their music career going and for financial purposes, but Abel did not even want to sign to a label at all. He believed he could do it all and make it by himself with his unique methods and authentic image. Eventually he signed to a label for only one reason: because his music career could not survive if he kept giving his Music away for free, and he did not quite have the fan base to sell records on his own and make a living off it. Abel went as far as he could independently, and in the process, made legendary progress and achievements. As far as his lyrical content and image go, The Weeknd has heavily reinforced sexual stereotypes that are common in our North American societies, and continues to do so. It is rare to see one of The Weeknd's album covers and works of photography missing either a woman, nudity, or both. Partially, and sometimes fully, nude women are obviously present in most of his music videos as well. Abel has been known to hire pornstars for roles in music videos, promotional posters for his XO merchandise and clothing, and he has even produced porn films to be specially played on a big screen in the background during his concerts for his Kiss Land Tour. The majority of The Weeknd's lyrical content discusses dark topics, including drugs, partying, sex, etc. Among these dark themes, women, and the treatment of women, might possibly the darkest of all. Examples of themes from The Weeknd's lyrics include rape, gang rape, pressuring innocent women to do drugs, turning women from innocent girls to whorish drug fiends, encouraging women to cheat on their boyfriends, and more. These themes obviously project the unhealthy sexual stereotypes present in our society, and even though these themes and stereotypes can be quite explicit, reinforcing them has worked out in his favor.
Sorry for the bump. Could I use your essay for my class? I would take it and give it to the essay grader online, just to be sure, here: https://edubirdie.com/essay-grader and I think that will guarantee that I will get a straight A+. Because your research is huge and complex, it is good for music theory classes. I wish I would think like you in the future too.
 
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