Palm trees rise underneath a midnight blue Hollywood sky in a California. People navigate the frenzied expressway, waiting to connect to another line. A helicopter lands near a home and The Weeknd gets out. Lit in copper, he walks up the stairway of his mansion.
He brushes the sides of his hair with his hands while a fire burns in the middle of a table. A young woman sits on a sink in the bathroom and then leaves.
In a tunnel, The Weeknd opens the door of his luxury car as A$AP Rocky drives. The young woman sits on another woman’s lap and makes out with her. A group of men huddle in a parking structure and formulate a plan. Two men open their cans and spray fire.
Drake stands next to The Weeknd and dances on the burning table. A$AP Rocky checks his rearview mirror. The Weeknd stands up in the seat and gestures with his hand. The young woman leans against a pole in the parking structure, holding a red plastic cup. Bryson Tiller walks down a hallway. Belly runs his fingers on his chin as he sits on a shell shaped chair.
The Weeknd gets out of the car and walks onto an airplane. The Weeknd dances in the airplane hangar. French Montana stands behind him. The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky flip people off with both hands as they stand up in the moving car in the tunnel.
The camera rotates as The Weeknd and several rappers hang out at the airplane hangar. The men burn the Hollywood sign. Travis Scott puts his hand on The Weeknd’s shoulder. In his hoodie, he dances in his backyard while Hollywood burns behind him.
Once an independent artist, The Weeknd has broken through to the mainstream. Money is no longer a worry. Multiple rappers want to work with him. His name now carries weight. He’s accomplished his dream.
The Hollywood sign burns behind his mansion, its flames creeping into the hills. At industry parties and meetings, he has heard some seedy stories, none which he is ready to tell. His long, claw scratching road to the Top 40 meant giving in and letting go of some principles as well. Whoever he was before no longer exists.
Once he is fully established, he can talk about discrimination and his politics without alienating his fanbase. For now, he is restricted to cryptic tweets and fluff promotional stories about his album.
Director: Kid Studio Year: 2017
Pam Avoledo’s love of pop culture began in 1999 with the message boards dedicated to shows on the CW (then WB). She graduated from Oakland University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
When she is not debating whether Dawson should’ve ended up with Joey, she looks at cute dog memes on social media.