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The Weeknd Says Amharic “Will Definitely Be Key” On His New Album

Speaking with VMAN in a new cover story, The Weeknd aka Abel Tesfaye opened up about the big influence his Ethiopian heritage will have on his upcoming record, the follow-up to last year’s chart-toppingBeauty Behind the Madness.

After talking about the Amharic lines he sings at the end of “The Hills,” Tesfaye mentioned:

“You hear it mostly in my voice, I’ve been told my singing isn’t conventional. Ethiopian music was the music I grew up on, artists like Tilahun Gessesse,Aster Aweke, and Mahmoud Ahmed. These are my subconscious inspirations. ‘The Hills’ was the first time you actually heard the Ethiopian language in my music. It will definitely be key on this next record.”

Tesfaye also spoke about the new musical influences on the forthcoming album, which include greats from the 1970s and 80s.

“There are new inspirations on this album. The production feels aggressive but still sexy. The Smiths, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, Prince, and DeBarge play roles. We wrote it all in Los Angeles. I think it’ll be the best-sounding album I’ve ever done. It’s hard to label the sound because, when I first came out, nobody would label it R&B. I just want to keep pushing the envelope without it feeling forced.”

enough is enough. it's time to stand up for this. we can either sit and watch, or do something about it. the time is now.

   

Lastly, the singer also talked about his recent support for Black Lives Matter and how he wishes he could make music about politics. Tesfate reportedly donated $250,000 to the movement last month.

“I promised myself that I would never tweet or talk about politics and focus on the music, but I was just so bewildered that we lost more of our people to these senseless police shootings. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that there are people who can’t or won’t see what Black Lives Matter is trying to accomplish. I wish I could make music about politics. I feel like it’s such an art and a talent that I admire tremendously, but when I step into the studio I step out of the real world, and it’s therapeutic. It’s an escape, but recently it’s been very hard to ignore, and it’s also been very distracting. Maybe you’ll hear it in my voice, but it is not my forté.”

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