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The Weeknd Buries His Old Self in the Video for the Kanye West-Produced “Tell Your Friends”

Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd.
Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd.

Still from YouTube

The Weeknd’s new album finds the alt-R&B singer-songwriter-producer reinventing himself as a pop superstar, so it’s appropriate that the video for his new single “Tell Your Friends” finds him literally burying an older version of himself alive and walking away. (Or, to be more precise, dancing away.) Not that the Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, has gone squeaky clean. In fact, the other way to interpret Tesfaye burying himself alive might be that it’s just the latest iteration of his old self-destructive tendencies. As he sings throughout the song, with a nod to how he’s been seen in the popular imagination, “I’m that nigga with the hair/ Singing ’bout popping pills,/ f—ing bitches, living life so trill.”

The song, one of the highlights in an album full of them, is co-produced by Kanye West, with what sounds like a prominent sample of Soul Dog’s “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” (a favorite of hip-hop producers). So it’s perhaps appropriate that the Grant Singer-directed video also brings to mind West’s own murder-by-shovel music video (co-directed with Spike Jonze), for “Flashing Lights.” Toward the end of the video, things takes a last-minute left turn from “Tell Your Friends” into Beauty Behind the Madness opener “Real Life.” Given Tesfaye’s hot streak lately (his last three singles have all gone to the Top 5, where two of them sit right now), I wouldn’t be surprised if either, or both, start heading to the top of the charts.

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