The Weeknd - Kiss Land

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"Kiss Land" is a polished, lateral step with an accompanying barcode for The Weeknd's fans with little appeal for fans of traditional, testosterone-driven R&B.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before. Canadian artist gains increased notoriety after having his music showcased on various blogs, releases a few critically acclaimed mixtapes and subsequently signs a major label deal while inadvertently challenging stereotypes of masculinity and class division. In this case, the artist in question would be Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye—Drake’s quasi-protégé and, for better or worse, a sort of R&B equivalent to Hip Hop’s self-proclaimed “Champagne Papi.”

While sharing Drake’s story of rising through the ranks of urban music’s blogosphere, Weeknd is actually cast more from the mold of Chris Brown and The-Dream. The aforementioned crooners serve as the falsettoed, bastard seedlings of R. Kelly (and to a lesser degree, Prince) insofar as mixing radio-friendly fare with explicit, raunchy lyrics. An insatiable appetite for sex, drugs and emoting powered Weeknd’s House Of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes Of Silence. And in that regard, his official foray into retail follows suit.

But, make no mistake about it; the clear stars of Kiss Land are producers DannyBoyStyles and Jason “DaHeala” Quenneville. Tesfaye is listed as a co-producer, and this album surely fits the vision he laid out in one of his only interviews—telling Damien Scott of Complex that Kiss Land symbolized both tour life and “a terrifying place.” For someone labeled as an R&B singer, Weeknd, Quenneville and DannyBoyStyles rarely use any Soul or R&B touchstones. The trio borrows Portishead’s “Machine Gun” for “Belong To The World,” while also incorporating samples from The Police (“Adaptation”) and Emika (“Professional”) into the mix. This isn’t the cut and pasted, four on the floor EDM of yesteryear supplied by the Black Eyed Peas and David Guetta.

For his part, Weeknd serves as the R&B equivalent to adult actor James Deen. Behind the boyish charm lies the thinly veiled type of truly ratchet, disrespectful talk that leads directly to either a slap or coitus. Take the following lines from the title track:

“When I got on stage, she swore I was six feet tall / But when she put it in her mouth she can’t seem to reach my… / Ball, ball, ball / Ballin’ ain’t an issue for me, I’ll make a hundred stacks right back next week / Do it all again, I’m faded off the wrong thing, the wrong thing…”

Mixed in with the stellar production and pillow talk are plenty of lyrics about strippers, infidelity and pretty much every emotion in the book. For Weeknd fans, the juxtaposition between his lithe falsetto, the airy production and lyrics that detail bathroom sex (“The Town”) and a need for Adderall (“Kiss Land”) has been part of the appeal since House of Balloons. Listeners looking something rooted in traditional, testosterone-driven R&B may spontaneously spawn a pair of ovaries halfway through the talk about lost love, cupcaking strippers and feeling lifeless. But those not knowing what to expect after three mixtapes of similar material are most likely not checking for The Weeknd anyway.

By his own admission, Weeknd set out to create a product inspired by directors Ridley Scott, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. What he ended up with was more along the lines of Eli Roth “torture porn.” None of which is to say Kiss Land is inferior. But it does say there are times when the lyrics vacillate between seventh grade locker room talk and a dime store Valentine’s Day card—raunchiness and profanity be damned. This album is a polished, lateral step with an accompanying barcode for Weeknd’s fans. And outsiders looking to understand his appeal are likely better off downloading the three mixtapes that preceded the album.


  • Claudio Cotto

    Just bought kiss land and 2 mixtapes. He is the shit. No one is on his level.

  • Paul

    This album just grows on you.. At first I was disappointed, I thought trilogy sounded better. Men this is absolutely the best album of the year to me. Absolute genius. I can't do a day with out this album..Drake ruin one song doe.. The weeknd songs are always soft bruv.. U just have to feel d energy

  • 777

    The Weeknd has the voice of a God.

  • Anonymous

    I can't believe The Weeknd gets so much love for his soft ass music, and Drake gets ruthlessly called a faggot for doing the same thing, but spitting some bars in between. I can't get my head around this site

  • huh.

    DX was extra harsh on this. Shoulda been more honest about Kanye, Jay Z and Drake instead. Le sigh...

  • David Graft

    Great album. Possibly album of the year, but I'm still waiting to hear what other artists might put out. Huge thumbs up!

  • Anonymous

    if you think this is better than echoes of silence or house of balloons your a fake ass fan

  • Kelvin

    It's so cinematic, from begining to end. Easily his best work.

  • Ricardo

    never make your first album a double cd and then release a mediocre cd as your second release. Not feeling this album at all. Trilogy was a classic

    • Delay503

      Totally agree with the above statement. I love his first three and bought this the second it came out without even thinking about it. Wish I would have previewed it first, this album was not worth my $10. I am really disappointed in this album. It sounds clean but that's about it. The writing is garbage compared to his first few albums. Try harder next time or you're going to loose all the fans that made built up your name.

  • goose

    Definitely an alternative R&B album, really enjoying this. I see myself listening to this frequently through the fall into the winter.

  • uniiiverse

    and have to say.. how the fuck is this shit not testorone driven? You really must not have caught a single goddamn thing this motherfucker was saying the whole fucking time did you? How high were you when listening to it though really? Like I was baked as shit and it was great but still can't process it all at first obviously. "Sure to make you cum do it bout three times in a row, And I know you would of left, but that pussy in control. Got that pussy in control. I got in control." - Love in the Sky like fuck man, I got hope you'll come around and re-listen to this shit, I really do

  • uniiiverse

    This is a fine review, from a bitter hip-hop head who can't fuck with abel's music because he never went through a drugged up 20's phase. And if he thinks he has, he clearly hasn't, the way he talks about adderall is just immature for someone who should be very well versed in the college scene. This album has lots of golden lyricism that is outdoing the vast majority of lyricists in this fucking game at the moment. "Burn a whole into your apprehensiveness, and let the wildfire shine... And repeat after me."-Wanderlust "She has no recollection. She forgot the good things about me. She let it slip away(x10)"-Tears in the Rain "You belong to the loneliness of filling every need. You belong to the world.(x2) You belong to the temporary moments of a dream."-Belong to the World etc. This is a solid album with amazing producers that The Weeknd is putting on, filled with refreshing song structures and crazy concepts. I'm really dissappointed this smart dude reviewing this shit can't get the bitter dick out his ass and just read the lyrics and appreciate the shit instead of trying so damn hard to disdain himself. And I apologize but I have to say a personal "Fuck You" sir for that first paragraph after the "Raise your hand.." How many references we got for that one.. really man... real shit

  • Nu Jerz

    I'm convinced critics hate this dude and fans love him. The Weekend is dope.

  • Anonymous

    His hair will never fuck with Murs.

  • Jackie

    I love Abel!! His voice. His seductive voice and songs!! Love the album !! Marry me Abel!!

  • fazeela

    K I S S L A N D is perfection

  • 6x

    Spot on review, especially that last paragraph. I usually don't like HHDX reviews, but again, this was spot on.

  • Cadda

    It's funny, the users of this site get so outraged whenever any album doesn't get a 5/5

  • Shuttaman

    Omar burgess is obviously a hoe ass nigga who can't get no pussy ole old ass virgin ass punk nigga. a 3? are you fuckign kidding me you fucking idiot!!!

  • Shuttaman

    3 stars? Omar you're a fucking bitch.

  • hmmm

    I think 4 on this one, guys.

  • Tight! Hella Tight!

    it ain't better than his previous 3 mixtapes though

  • Tight! Hella Tight!

    ....and ain't better that his previous 3 mix tapes though

  • Tight! Hella Tight!

    Best R&B act there is right now. He neither looks nor sounds like any other. Tight 5/5!!

  • Anonymous

    review is right on point could of gave it a 2.5. this album has a dumb vibe to it no songs I would not listen to on a daily and a complete downgrade from his mix tapes beats and lyrics..he pissed me off with that trilogy bullshit we already heard those fuckin songs before and now your doing mainstream shit frank ocean is getting another Grammy smfh

  • jkn lj

  • Anonymous

    Wack review. This is a great album. Not the same as Trilogy but it's not supposed to be.

  • Anonymous

    These reviewers really annoy me. The reviews for this album have been ridiculously poor and most all of the negative reviews quote the lyrics from the title track and complain about the raunchy lyrics which are considerably toned down from trilogy. These are the same sites that praised Yeezus to no end, this is like the reviews i read when the mmlp came out. Bunch of butthurt fgt reviewers

  • Mj

    WTF. How can you review the Weeknd but not have a review of Stalley's Honest cowboy mixtape??? Why is this site called HipHopDX when you passing off rapper for RnB singer? da fuq

  • Jordan

    Im so pissed dude. Who the fuck wrote this?

  • Jordan

    Man, This is the R&B album since Ready- Trey Songz. The Weeknd is the best musical artist out now.

  • as

    I don;t think the reviewer even listened to this one. I mean its not classic but it's not a 3. it's not comparable to mainstream traditional r&b. And if you want Raunchy listen The Dream 4 Play.

  • Jerkis

    OK album. You can tell that something is different in this one than the previous. He is also pretty terrible live so he should just stick to studio work and keep the music to those that can ACTUALLY sing.

    • Jamison

      You haven't seen him live if you think that, Whoever you are stop being lazy, just looking at the youtube videos, go check him out sometime it's worth it. So good live, best concert I've been to.

    • as

      He is awful live, but this is a decent album. IT's not his worst project and its actually not as raunchy as his pervious work. It's a bit tame, with better song writing and production. It's his second best project. On step below Echoes

  • lohen

    Which weeknd tapes are good?

  • Isabel

    It's for sure different from trilogy that it takes a couple of listens to adjust to the new music. After my 4th round I loved kissland. The weeknd even said he was at a different stage in his life so his music was going to change along with it. Real fans will love the album

  • Miriam

    AMAZING!!!!!! Perfect in every way possible!

  • dark

    no words beside everything the weeknd has done as been a different sound pretty much can't give anything that's NEW less than a 5 five

  • IHateMorgy

    it's not anywhere near as good as the mixtapes, and although it's not mainstream, it has the big label vibe to it. After listening through there's maybe 4 songs i'll keep, but i love the weeknd and maybe i need a few more listens to appreciate it

  • SellOut

    This website used to be the site to go to when you knew an album was good, but wasn't getting proper mainstream recognition. Remember the "Blu-Below The Heavens" days? Now I don't see any reason why I shouldn't skip this and go straight to AllHipHop. You expect an artist to "evolve" on his debut album? Btw he put out amazing mixtapes and for the album to be just as good is enough of an accomplishment. Is Yeezus your idea of evolving? I thought evolving meant getting better not worse, you see you're not really evolving when the end result is trash regardless of how much you've changed. Or is The Dream's 4Play your idea of evolving or does he not need to evolve even though he's made like 4 or 5 albums. Can you bring back your old staff cause shit like this will lead to the death of HipHopDX, and nobody wants just another commercial shithole, there's enough of them already.

    • Will

      I get what your saying, but believe it or not Yeezus was good, it was something different. I think this should have been his first album, because this was something he should of put out from the beginning. I love all his work, but be mindful Yeezus is hip-hop The Weeknd is PRnB different genres bro, so there is no need for senseless bias.

  • twe

    you should be fired for giving such a good album a 3. how dare you. this album is an amazing listen from beginning to end. there is no bad song on the album, he has grown as an artist and the sounds that have been meshed together are just phenomenal. the lyrics and world play in his songs are amazing . how dare you give it a three! why does a dunce like you have such a large platform to discredit one of the best albums of this year.

  • Anonymous

    This review is bullshit. PERIOD.

  • So Icy Boi!

    Omar is right. Weeknd sucks and Drake saved diz shitty record. swag

  • Anonymous

    HipHopDX just lost so much credibility for this outrageous rating!! switch your fking writers, cause they obviously cant review music... Kiss Land is a dark themed soundtrack on purpose

  • Nima

    Haven't felt this way about a singer since MJ

  • ANON

    GOod album. This reviewer is on one. 4/5.

  • dac

    also the vocals of this album are so different from the first 3 mixtapes. this album is a lot darker and much more in depth with feelings than the trilogy. FUCK YOU OMAR BURGESS

  • dac

    lmao this album is a 5 for sure FOH hiphopdx

  • Anonymous

    YOU A FAN!!! NOT A FUCKING ARTIST A FAN!!!!! STAY IN YO PLACE!!!! this the realist shit i read people always being critical and they can't even construct a song... This genre of blk made music always seems to be extremely criticised by it's so called "fans"

  • ok

    So know people who listen to RAP/Hip-Hop and RnB are no longer fans they are "listeners"....

  • The Homie New

    YOO 3/5 ARE YOU FUCKIN DEATH CUH!! I mean its not Trilogy but my dude this way better any trash that's being called R&B or Pop or whatever 4.5/5 easily ..XO

  • 777


  • Industry Advocate

    This is an Alternative R&B Album at it's finest! You can hear the Portishead and Bjork influences all through it. I don't think this writer gave it a chance with the right ear. You can't compare it to say, the new TGT album or the Jaheim album that dropped recently because that's not what it's rooted from. It was a dope album, and 3 is too low for something that sounds like nothing else.

  • Anonymous

    Just a three? even the most mediocre albums get at least a three and a half on this blog site

  • THE MH

    I have never heard or seen the word coitus. Y'all must keep a thesaurus close when writing these.

  • Kones

    Huge fan, but this album is a disappointment. Summed up well in the final sentence of the review. You're better off checking out the mixtapes that comprise Trilogy. The songs on Kissland all sort of boringly blend together.

  • lol

    Excellent journalism lol. Which CC writing class was this for?

  • Mary T. Chance

    as Jeremy implied I am stunned that a stay at home mom can get paid $6642 in one month on the internet. look at here now... This just in: Kendrick ate a burrito and had to shit. HHDX sources may believe this could be a "diss shit" at other rappers. We will keep you posted after he wipes since we have no other stories at this time.

  • Anonymous

    A 3? Really? At least a 4 maybe 4.5

  • zlander

    Bought it because I thought he deserved to be paid for the 3 mixtapes prior (actually only 2, Thursday was OK), but I was really disappointed, he's shown no growth, and production has taken a huge step back since he fired his boy Jeremy Rose)..hopefully he grows with his next release

    • zlander

      Sorry next time i'll buy even the free mixtapes this artist released especially since he did all that work for free that he had to pay for.

    • ok


  • Anonymous

    OVOXO. Enough said!

  • Django

    His Mixtapes were better...

  • anonymous

    classic shit...this nigga a legend in the making,on some mj shit

  • JRich

    Did the reviewer just compare him to a male pornstar..?

  • Anonymous

    cant believe he gonna sell more than 2 chainz!

  • Jay DeLuca

    me & the lady love this album just put in on have a couple drinks smoke some of Calis finest OG YODA yea budddy its a gonna b a good weeknd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!