The Weeknd needs to give Jeremy Rose his dues
This week marked the one year anniversary of the release of The Weeknd’s ‘House of Balloons’, an event truly worth commemorating, but it also threw up some really disheartening news about how the original producer of the Weeknd’s breakout tracks claims to have been written out of the group’s history, receiving neither credit or money for his work.
It’s impossible to overstate the justifiable tidal wave of hype that singer Abel Tesfaye and officially credited producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo generated this time last year when they released their free mixtape to the world. Tesfaye’s compelling tales of sex & drugs-fuelled depravity and self loathing, delivered in a syrupy ‘The-Dream’-like voice and teamed with slick-but-woozy, sprawling production formed a thematically and sonically coherent whole that was impossible to resist for both hipsters and the mainstream alike.
At the time of it’s release, the project was shrouded in artfully managed anonymity and mystery which undoubtedly made the listening experience more thrilling. Since then, two further mixtapes, remixes and collaborations with early-adopter Drake have followed and Tesfaye and The Weeknd’s profile has risen meteorically, but until now Canadian producer Jeremy Rose has remained in the shadows.
‘House of Balloons’ delivered on a considerable groundswell of excitement already generated by the previous release of three songs: “What You Need” (below), “Loft Music” and “The Morning (Original Version)“, production on which was credited at the time to Rose. However, since the release of House of Balloons, which features ‘What You Need’ and a re-worked version of The Morning, Rose’s name has disappeared completely from all of The Weeknd’s material.
Rose recently spoke to VICE about his work with Tesfaye and implied that he was not only essential to the Weeknd’s early production (he says he also produced ‘The Party’), but helped envision the entire project’s aesthetic:
“I asked him if he wanted to work on something– I had this idea for a dark R&B project… Abel seemed to suit the project.
When I met him I heard some of the stuff that he was doing. It was called the Noise… They were a straight kind of R&B, just really light… 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.”
Rose goes on to state that after the pair split due to creative differences, he gave Tesfaye the tracks he’d produced for him for free, on the proviso that he would be given credit where credit was due if ‘The Weekend’, as the project was then called (Tesfaye later dropped the ‘e’) ever blew up, which it subsequently did, almost immediately, in a very big way. Tesfaye and his producers now appear to have completely reneged on this agreement and Rose is now taking legal advice on the whole sorry situation.
It’s disingenuous to suggest that The Weeknd wouldn’t have been a success without Rose’s early input, and only Rose and Tesfaye really know whether his assertion that the drugged-up R’N’B aesthetic was all his idea is true or not, and to an extent this is largely irrelevant. It was ultimately Tesfaye, McKinney and Illangelo who carried the idea through to completion with such determination and deft execution in the rest of The Weeknd’s output.
What is without question, though, is that Jeremy Rose deserves credit and payment for the work he did produce for Tesfaye.
Tesfaye has himself tweeted about the anniversary of ‘Balloons’ and the phenomenal year that followed this week:
“last year = lots of music…this year = a lot of shows (big/small), a lot of festivals, a lot of videos and new fans”
Making things right with Jeremy Rose needs to be added to the top of his list.