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The Weeknd’s ‘Kiss Land’ and the Gift and Curse of Nonchalance

Nonchalance involves technique. It’s all in appearance rather than feeling, but imitation can sway until your soul, genuinely contain such emotion.

Being nonchalant is fun until you’re around people who care about you and won’t take advantage of who you are — or who they see you for — but you’re not able to receive your true value yet. Maybe you need to see it from their angle. You begin to realize: cultivating any relationships in life is difficult and it’s much easier to sustain decent solitude, rather than a life of joyous surroundings. Decency can never transition into a role of full-on fulfillment, because, it’s all an act.

There was a gravitational pull to hear The Weeknd croon about a nomadic lifestyle and never letting the cement dry where romance possibly could’ve walked. “The Birds (Part 1)” is Abel’s safe haven — there’s no slowing down his quick-pace lifestyle in Toronto and the women that mirror his attitude.

“Hope you see
It won’t mean a thing to me
I’ve been doing this too long
Baby girl, I’ve felt it all
So watch out
If you try to play your luck
Ain’t nobody gonna care enough
To catch you fall”

The first verse is a quick stanza, sending a disclaimer to the at-the-time girlfriend to not fall for him — he won’t be around to catch her.

Perhaps karma came back around during the following year, upon the release of Kiss Land, an album that precedes the chapters told during a 21-year-old stint in Toronto — staring at the same four walls — now surrounded by new beginnings.

“The narrative takes place after my first flight; it’s very foreign, very Asian-inspired. When people ask me ‘Why Japan?’ I simply tell them it’s the furthest I’ve ever been from home,” The Weeknd said in an 2013 interview with MTV. “It really is a different planet.”

He steps foot in Japan — unfamiliar territory where he doesn’t have control. Not the same, but control that was lost once he left Toronto for Montreal, recording the dark, shrill record — Echoes of Silence. The Weeknd described Japan and the recording of Kiss Land as, “honest fear.” Sonically, we were introduced to a new “planet” as Abel perceived it. The production, inspired by filmmakers such as: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott and musicians such as: Phil Collins, Stevie Nicks and Genesis. He creates a world of cinematic wonder and telling loose experiences over the course of 55 minutes.

From the opening track of “Professional,” the movie begins and we can credit a professional dancer for the story that unfolds, vividly, throughout the duration of the album. The dancer is concealed within her own little world, showing little, to damn-near no care for anyone or anything that attempts to enter. Unless it’s money, there’s no concern — this is a world that Abel can relate to — he’s met his match.

“So you’re somebody now, but what’s a somebody in a nobody’s town? I don’t think you even know it.” — The Weeknd — “Professional”

Ironically, Abel is now in a town where he’s not familiar with the ins and outs of daily life. She’s in comfort and he’s not, so now, he can faintly connect with the woman he warned not to fall in love with him, back home, in Toronto.

Abel is aware of the woman’s careless attitude, yet he can’t help but fall in love with her. Perhaps he’d become attracted to her nonchalant attitude. The fact that she could care less, makes him care more. The further she goes into the world she belongs to, his ambitious efforts thrive, emotionally.

“I’m not a fool. I just love that you’re dead inside.”

Somehow, a woman who doesn’t feel a thing taught him how to feel, deeper. It’s twisted and catches him by surprise. “I’ve succumb to what I’ve become,” Abel sings on “Belong to the World.”

It’s possible The Weeknd wanted to nourish a relationship with her because he’s in a new space, and having her around would calm down some of the madness — the madness we hear on the title track, “Kiss Land:” Anxiety, horror and uncertainty lives.

The album begins with “Professional,” where Abel finds characteristics in a woman — characteristics groomed him up North. Listening to “Professional,” you can hear the Michael Jackson influence — “Liberian Girl” is the destination — back to 1989. Similar production style appears on “Love In The Sky.”

“Adaptation” rings the sentiment of regret. Abel has left the town, Toronto, for new, loose experiences. Back home is a woman who knew him best and “she might’ve been the one.” He “let it go, for a little fun” and a career full of fame, money and new life episodes.

By the time we reach “Belong to The World,” Abel releases it all, in terms of his feelings for the woman, but there’s the come-to-grips reality that she doesn’t and never will belong to him. He was better off at home, living a pretty predictable life with the woman back home.

Belong to the World’is about falling in love with the wrong person,” The Weeknd told Complex in 2013, during his ‘Kiss And Tell’ cover story.

He left behind a town he’d become accustomed to and things changed once he returned. Returning back home on “Pretty,” “The Town,” and “Tears In The Rain,” he finds that she’s moved on no longer waits for his adoration — too much a risk.

“Somebody told me it was pointless to come back, into your arms. Said you fucked another man, finally, I knew this day would come.”

Leaving for a year, Abel didn’t, exactly expect for her not to move on, but he still felt the shocking pain from it happening. There’s still a sense of control, for he lets it be known that “as long as you know that when I land you’re mine.”

Toward the end of the album, the title track “Kiss Land” finds The Weeknd getting back to comfort, or, what he’s come to accept of himself. He’s back in the zone of laying his head wherever he is, fast-pace lifestyle that allows the escape of drugs. Although The Weeknd’s nomadic experiences have become a way of life for him at that point, he can’t help but think about the one, who could’ve been THE one.

Kiss Land tells the tale of a young man who leaves his comfort zone and enters someone else’s. Control is lost and the woman he falls for is a reflection of himself, in numerous ways. Returning home to Toronto, the woman he left behind, has no recollection of the life they had together. Drake and The Weeknd’s world’s are alike in this way: “Club Paradise” shared a parallel narrative.

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