On Tuesday, The Weeknd dropped the title track for his upcoming album, After Hours, a dark song about love and regret — and he’s getting just as candid in the cover story of CR Men’s fetish-themed issue, available on crfashionbook.com now and on newsstands March 12.
For the moody photo shoot, the Canadian R&B star channels his personal muse Sammy Davis Jr. in brightly colored suits and sequin-embellished pieces. The Weeknd, whose album drops March 20, sports oversized tinted sunglasses and other vintage-inspired accessories, as well as the same Afro hairstyle-and-mustache combo he debuted last year.
“The Weeknd is the perfect cover star for our first issue of the decade, which looks at what’s next culturally. The Weeknd came to prominence as our generation’s poet laureate of sleaze and off the back of his new releases, his evolution somewhat mirrors ours as we grapple with this era of digital dependency, detached intimacy and thus, abstinence,” CR Men editorial and creative director Patrik Sandberg said in a press release.
He continued: “We felt the timing couldn’t be better to explore the future of fetishes in objects, style, physiques, behaviors, and digital domains. And this contrarian impulse has foundations in the erotic: It feels so wrong it’s right.”
In the CR Men cover story — in which The Weeknd (né Abel Tesfaye) represents “a bold testament to what really turns society on in 2020,” according to a press release from the outlet — the star opens up about everything from drug use to feeling confident ahead of the release of his new music.
He continued: “There’s also a very committed vision and character being portrayed and I get to explore a different side of me that my fans have never seen.”
And in accordance with the provocative theme of the cover story, The Weeknd also got candid about drug-use, telling CR Men (an outlet founded by former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld) that he has an “off-and-on relationship” with drugs but is “completely sober” when he performs, explaining that live gigs give him a natural high.
“I have an off-and-on relationship with it…it doesn’t consume my life but occasionally helps me open up my mind, especially when I’m creating, but when I perform I’m completely sober and try not to even drink,” he said.
“All those screaming fans were there to see me and I was overwhelmed,” The Weeknd continued. “I was terrified, nervous, anxious and then when I sang the first note I felt euphoria. I was comfortable. I knew I was gonna do this for the rest of my life but I’ll never be able to duplicate that feeling.”