Terence McKenna states, “It [culture] invites people to diminish themselves, and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines, meme processors of memes passed down from Madison Avenue, and Hollywood, and what have you.” The “City of Angels” an illusional paradigm that disguises many hidden devils, constructed on toxicity and a melting pot of chaos. Hollywood is known as the land of perfection, scandals, sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll; this lavish and elusive lifestyle that people would “sell their soul” for to obtain. This sense of power, money, success, and status is so ingrained in our social construct that people tend to lose who they are trying to be, something they’re not, and Hollywood is the right place for any to study.
Examining The Weeknd’s album “After Hours” were immersed like Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole of The Weeknd [Abel’s] mind we go. In and through this performance [Album], we explore the cultural, aesthetic, and rhetorical underpinnings of person [Abel] who basically has been engulfed in this from “rags to riches” lifestyle struggling with these dark and twisted chaotic concepts such as being lost, cheating, lying, alcohol, drug use, and all the other deadly sins we face as humans. Abel [The Weeknd] starts off stating “Take off my disguise, I’m living someone else’s life” He seems to be telling us the listeners I’ve lost the person I used to be from wandering the streets of Toronto Canada, homeless at the age of 20 to now looking at himself in the mirror in L.A. as one of the most successful artists in the world; telling himself “Cali was the mission, now a nigga leaving.” This line is extremely important in the deconstruction of his alter ego The Weeknd. He [Abel] is now questioning the integrity of Los Angeles and whether or not he can continue to be happy in L.A. knowing how destructive the city is.
Lastly, I really believe and feel that this album really is challenging the narrative of the illusion the “City of Angels” depicts to the world on a global scale. This album true I think encompasses a rawness and it’s one of the most pure & transparent work he’s ever produced. Every single song challenges his decisions of overindulgence, possessiveness, and fixation that contributed to Abel’s demise. “Will I continue as The Weeknd and allow this character to destroy me, or will I be free as Abel?” is the inception-style query before I bleed out. Based on his songs escape from LA and faith, his lyrics state “I can’t make you stay in this broken place” we can see that as LA and how corrupted it is and how desperate he is to losing the battle of who he is. In the end I believe he chooses to be Abel. But that’s only the start, the culmination of his internal conflict. After listening to this album a million times, I’m firmly confident that this is the final act of that character/persona we know as [The Weeknd].