Most of us know R&B outfit The Weeknd to be more or less the sole province of Ethiopian-Canadian singer/producer Abel Tesfaye—though the way the act is so shrouded in mystery does lead to believe that there might be more to that story. One person who certainly wants us to believe that the truth is out there is former Tesfaye collaborator Jeremy Rose, who recently spoke to VICE Magazine on the subject of The Weeknd—and more specifically, how he was a crucial part of the group before being written out of history by Tesfaye. He tells Vice of the group’s origin story:
When I met (Tesfaye) I heard some of the stuff that he was doing. It was called the Noise. Remember that?…They were a straight kind of R&B, just really light and kind of candlelight… (sings) ‘I wanna see you in your birthday suit’… And I was just like, ‘Aw, fuck that shit. No man, let’s talk about, fuckin’ and getting too high and trying to fuck bitches and it not working out. Let’s get really grimy about it.’
Yes, that…certainly sounds like The Weeknd. So what happened, then? Jeremy told Vice of the split:
He wanted me to produce for him without any of my input. And I was like, ‘Well then, what’s the point of being a group?’ and he was like, ‘You can just be my producer,’ and I said, ‘Are you going to pay me?’ Then (I realized he was) not going to pay me. That’s why I backed out.’
Creative differences and power struggles: A story old as time in this music industry. But then why is this the first we’re hearing about Rose?
I was like, ‘You can have those three or four tracks, I’ll give you the stems, just take ’em, but I don’t want to work with you anymore.’ I was really congenial about it, but I told him, ‘Just make sure that you give me credit,’ and that’s where things went sour.
Ah. Well, the story sounds credible—and indeed, it’s a pretty long way from “Birthday Suit” to “House of Balloons”—though it also wouldn’t be the first time that a voice from Back in the Day tried to lay claim to more than his fair share of an artist’s success. For whatever it’s worth, Abel doesn’t appear ready to confess to his sins of omission:
some people will say anything for 15 minutes of fame lol… sad world…
— The Weeknd (@theweekndxo) March 23, 2012
i need “belle province” poutine…
— The Weeknd (@theweekndxo) March 24, 2012