Day 155: S.f.M. – The Weeknd’s “Live For (feat. Drake)”

by Tom Noonan

On Take Care, Drake identifies himself as “living proof that you ain’t got to die to get to Heaven”, a claim, it seems, he’s still trying to fully explicate via his forthcoming Nothing Was The Same.  When it comes to Drake, Heaven is more of a status than a reward, something he can whisper in someone else’s girl’s ear or scrawl across a billboard in outsized gold letters but is best seen at a distance.  He’s not so much boasting on that line as he is realizing just where idolization has brought him.  He always dreamed of the pearly gates but never thought about what might be beyond them.

It’s this conflict of bravado that makes Aubrey’s collaborations with The Weeknd so enthralling.  A disembodied amalgam of pop phantoms and a fist-full of painkillers, The Weeknd plays a terrific Marley to Drake’s (less-miserly) Ebenezer (this isn’t a perfect comparison, I know, but Charles Dickens deserves it).  Take “Crew Love” for instance, their placid, beat-drop-teasing collab on Take Care, where we find The Weeknd doing coke off a keyboard in a dorm room (probably?) while Drake smokes weed comfortably in a planetarium, musing on his decision not to attend college.  Once again, we’re shown Drake in Heaven, but it feels different now that we know The Weeknd is stuck in Hell.

“Live For” isn’t much different from “Crew Love” in its casting, but the afterthought guitar line leaves little between the two actors, between Heaven and Hell.  For the first time, both Drake and The Weeknd sound like they’re in the same room.  An exorcism isn’t supposed to sound this good.  Listen below: