Four years ago, The Weeknd said that he would not make music about politics. But after a full year of tragic global events, the singer can’t help but center his upcoming music around some of 2020’s unfortunate-yet-memorable moments. After his album After Hours was snubbed by the Grammys, the singer is already starting to work on his next LP — and it’s inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, the pandemic, and the tensions in the U.S. election.
The Weeknd opened up about his next album’s plans in an upcoming 100-page zine for Tmrw. In his interview, the singer offered some insight into his musical inspirations:
“I have been more inspired and creative during the pandemic than I might normally be while on the road…The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the tensions of the election have mostly created a sense of gratitude for what I have and closeness with the people near me.”
Elsewhere in the piece, The Weeknd added that he thinks After Hours is a way of culminating his decade in the music industry. “I was laser focused back then and I’m laser focused right now,” he said. “This has been the story of my 20s. I feel like I spent the last 10 years creating a sound and most of my career I’ve either been running away from it or duplicating it. After Hours was the perfect piece of art for me to show my tenure in the industry.”
His discussions about infusing politics into his music marks a drastic shift just a few years earlier in his career. Back in 2016, the singer opened up about his support for the Black Lives Matter protests, saying that he donated a large sum of money but wasn’t ready for his music to reflect his political views. “I wish I could make music about politics,” he said in a 2016 interview with V Man Magazine. “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.”