The Weeknd’s haute taste in samples may have finally run him into trouble. The shadowy R&B lothario known as Abel Tesfaye has drawn on music from the Smiths, Beach House, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Aaliyah. When he debuted “Belong to the World” last month live, we noted that the forthcoming Kiss Land track used Portishead’s “Machine Gun” percussion. Now the Weeknd has shared a netherworldly eight-minute video for the song (via MTV), and considering the video’s length and grandiose inscrutability, it’s only natural the sample is generating the most discussion.
Portishead’s Geoff Barrow has indicated via Twitter that he refused the Weeknd permission to use the sample. “I think it’s a load of bollox,” Barrow wrote. He added, “When someone asks to sample you and you refuse they should have the respect as a fellow artist to not use it.” And: “We usually give sample clearance to tunes we like. its got fuk all to do with money! As most of them are hiphop artist that are skint.” He later wrote, “Feels like I’m being used to promote the track now… I’ll shut up now.”
Portishead surely know the first rule of the Internet: Don’t feed the trolls. Even if their three mixtapes were lethally seductive.