Released: 2016

“Reminder” by The Weeknd is a slick, self-assured anthem of defiance and self-promotion. It’s an assertion of identity from an artist who feels misunderstood by the mainstream. Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. The Weeknd, is laying down a challenge to anyone who doubts his authenticity, his success, or his impact on the music industry.

Starting off, we’re hit with a call-out to the industry heads. The Weeknd’s not here for that “blue-eyed soul”—a term traditionally used when white artists are in the R&B space. He’s embracing his roots, letting his black hair grow, and living life on his terms, even if it means being too raw for radio play. “We gon’ let them hits fly” is his way of saying he’s going to keep making hits on his own terms, and if you ain’t down with his crew, XO, then step off. He then flips the script, juxtaposing his win of a kids’ show award with the reality of his lifestyle, indulging in substances like cocaine, which is as far from kid-friendly as you can get.

He ain’t here for any mistaken identities, either. He ain’t a “Teen Choice” or a “bleach boy”—possibly a dig at artists who clean up their image or music for wider appeal. The “whip game” and “Hannibal” lines paint a picture of power and control, stylized through his luxury car (‘Lambo’ for Lamborghini) which is as silent and menacing as Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs.” His success is explosive, just like “propane,” and he’s not impressed with the current state of R&B, feeling they lack originality. The Weeknd prides himself in having a unique sound and a diverse taste in women, here represented with an “Asian chick” who’s down with him, his reference to “lo mein” being a play on words for both the food and something much more intimate.

The Weeknd Reminder

The chorus is simple but effective. Every time someone tries to brush him off or count him out, The Weeknd is right there to remind them of who he is and what he’s achieved. It’s a confident assertion of his prominence in the music game.

The second verse dives deeper into his lifestyle. He’s all about the grind for that money and creating music that resonates—”dope shit.” Tesfaye sees imitators trying to cop his style, which he considers old news, signaling his influence on the industry. His references to “codeine” and “trophies” highlight the mix of celebration and excess in his life. “Roll until my nose bleed” uses vivid imagery to suggest indulgence in drugs as part of his creative or celebratory process. Success isn’t just personal but extends to his entourage, his “niggas,” who are also self-made and flaunt their wealth, which is a common metric of success in hip-hop.

He then takes us back to his come-up story, from days of having “a mattress on the floor” to a life of luxury. But the realness remains in his struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, “tryna lose weight,” juxtaposed with the hedonistic pleasures of “good sex” and hotel escapades. The closing bridge with “shake some” and “work some” is an invitation to celebrate, to dance, to lose yourself in the moment—something he’s now earned the right to ask for, being “the Don” of his own empire.

Through “Reminder,” The Weeknd’s message is loud, clear, and unapologetic. He’s a force to be reckoned with, a creator with a Midas touch for hits, and a lifestyle befitting of his work. This track isn’t just a bop; it’s a bold statement of identity from an artist carving out his own legacy in the music world.