Give credit to Abel Tesfaye and Jeremy “Zodiac” Rose, whose first album under the Weeknd umbrella fulfilled that hoariest of cliches: it changed the game. The songwriting was weak, but the aesthetic was clear, so much as an aesthetic can be clear when it’s clouded by enough prescription pills and cocaine to make Anna Nicole Smith clock out. Abel mewled like a banshee in heat and Zodiac took bits of Clams Casino, screw music and Boi 1-DA and “40” and mixed them into something new. It was baby-making music for people who may never actually breed. (Word to Monie Love). Ennui-riddled millennials coming of age in a world where jobs are mindless, culture is mindless and vice might be the last virtue left. Music for the sleaziest of seductions. It was interesting but left me cold. I suppose that was the point.
But like the artists influenced by Lil B, I like a lot of the stuff that’s come in its wake. As serpentine as the early Weeknd material is, it manages to suck a lot of the cliches out of R&B. It’s creepy, but it isn’t simping. It captures the comedown and that’s 80 percent of the game when you’re making music to throw on amidst a round of “Who Wants to Sex Mutombo” (to use the parlance of our times.) So when Shlohmo and Jeremih got together to collaborate, they wound up making a Weeknd song that I like better than any Weeknd song. Everyone is ready to grant Jeremih god status, but I’m not entirely sold. He’s good, but “Bo Peep” proves that he isn’t anywhere near the “Sex Planet” status of creatively bizarre metaphors.
Shlohmo has mastered the art of elegant baby-making music. He found a way to mix Prince and D’Angelo with DJ Screw, Mount Kimbie and the LA beat scene. It’s the perfect canvas for a guy like Jeremih, who really only needs to kick a bunch of falsetto moans and “I’m going do you” come-ons. It’s a great song and as a bonus, if you walk through Echo Park bumping this on a boombox, you might get offered a ride on more than a few fixed gear bikes.
Credit Yours Truly for the inspiration between this soiree.