Abel, better known to us as The Weeknd is an artist who hails out of Toronto. Many of us became familiar with him when Drake posted his “Wicked Games” song on the OVO blog.
After this, the OVOXO connection was made which was comprised of Drake’s OVO crew and The Weeknd’s XO crew. If you are familiar at all with The Weeknd, you know that he doesn’t do interviews. Until this point. The Weeknd covers Complex magazine’s August/September issue and gives his first full length in-depth interview. In his interview, The Weeknd speaks on Drake’s ‘Take Care’ album and the part he shared in it. For instance, he tells us that “Crew Love”, “The Ride” and “Shot For Me” were originally intended for his House of Balloons mixtape. Also, “Crew Love” contains a second unheard verse. He also shares some other things I think you’ll be interested in reading. Check the excerpts below.
Which of the three resonates with you the most?
House of Balloons is the most important for me because I spent the most time on it. I didn’t have a deadline for that. As soon as I put House of Balloons out, I let the world know I’m coming out with two more albums this year, so I had my own little deadline. Before House of Balloons, it was all freedom.
House of Balloons was actually supposed to have more songs than it does. I had so many records left, and thenTake Care came through. “Crew Love,” “Shot for Me,” and “The Ride” were supposed to be on House of Balloons. I wanted to come out with like 14 records. I felt like “The Ride” was the last one, and it wasn’t done yet. [Drake] heard it and he was like, “This shit’s crazy.”
How did you give it to him? Was it just an instrumental?
Yeah, we were making the drum loop and…oh, man, I had smoked I don’t know how much weed. Even Drake, he came into that session and we were all smoked out. It was terrible how much weed smoke was in that room. I was surprised I could even hit a note. I had sung this melody—it wasn’t a hook, just an unfinished lyric. And he liked it so much, he was like, “I need to have this, man…. I know I’ve already taken ‘Shot for Me’ and ‘Crew Love’ and this and that.” And me, I was hungry at that time. I was like, “Dude, take anything.” At that point I was like, “Hell, yeah.”
In your mind, what was “The Ride” supposed to be?
There are two ways of making music for me. There’s a calculated route—like, I know exactly what I’m going to do with this song. And then there’s the free mind. That was one of the free-minded records. It was all subconscious. I’ll make the music first and loop it, and then I’ll go into the booth and start singing almost 45 minutes straight. And these are not words; this is gibberish. It’s a songwriter language. There are lyrics on Thursday, I don’t even know what the fuck I said. “Gone” was a complete freestyle.
When you do a feature for other artists, do you give them an entire song?
With “Crew Love,” it wasn’t like that. Like I said, that was my song. I had a hook and I had a second verse. And Drake heard it and he was like, “Fuck, man.”
There’s a second verse?
Yeah, there was a second verse on it.
You’ve got to play that for me!
I fucking hate that second verse. That was a complete freestyle as well. I’m glad Drake placed his vocals on it. That song was so special to him. I didn’t hear that verse until maybe four or five months after I gave it to him. Even with“The Zone,” I was scared I was going to have to put out Thursday before his verse came in because Drake takes his time. He makes sure that he says the right shit and his flow is on point.
It seems like your work on Take Care was similar to the way Kanye West enlisted Kid Cudi on 808s & Heartbreak.
Or when Jay-Z hit up Kanye for The Blueprint.
Do you think Drake tapped you to give Take Care that feel?
Yeah, he told me he wouldn’t be able to do the album without me. You can read it on the credits that he thanked me. I don’t know if that’s him being generous, but I gave him a lot of records. I made “Practice.”
What did you do on “Practice”?
That whole hook was me. That’s probably the only song I wrote for Take Care. The rest of it was just shit I was going to have for [House of Balloons]. He really wanted to incorporate my sound, which was inspired by his sound. It’s not like, “Oh, I had the ‘new sound.’” It was just easier for him to relate to me, because it was his sound with an edge. It was that Toronto sound. So yeah, you’re right. I feel like I could have been that for his album.
People think you guys aren’t cool with each other anymore.
No, that’s not true. Definitely not true. But it makes sense. The thing about Drake is I told him what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.
You mean in terms of your label deal?
Everything. I told him from day one what my decision was going to be. I wasn’t going that route. I was going to go my own route. And he supported me.
I told Drake what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.
So when you read things about how you two are not cool…
—he’s like me when it comes to shit like that, too. He loves reading that stuff.
You both just brush it off?
Of course. I don’t like to spoon-feed people. I don’t like to be like, “You know what? I’m going to let the world know that we’re cool. We’re going to take a picture together. Everyone’s cool.” It’s all about the mystery, and people like it. Shit’s WWE, man. It’s wrestling, you know what I mean?