What does “Reminder” by The Weeknd mean?
“Reminder” has to be the most unique on The Weeknd’s record Starboy. And that’s just lyrically. The music side of the song is similar to other tracks, but while most of the other songs on the record focus on sex or self-definition based on fame, “Reminder” focuses on self-definition in relation to the music industry. It takes a slightly different tact than other songs and certainly contains quite a bit of information that we can use to learn about The Weeknd and his character Starboy.
“Reminder” Lyrics’ Meaning
In “Reminder,” The Weeknd seems to be trying to prove to us that he’s a big deal and that he’s not kid friendly. The song focuses on telling us about how he’s going to “remind” us that he exists and is popular, but on the other hand he wonders how he got a Teen Choice award for “Can’t Feel My Face.” The rest of the song seems to be an attempt to describe all of the reasons that he’s actually not kid-friendly. “Reminder” is an interesting song, and there’s more to it, of course, than what I’ve described here.
Verse 1: I’m Not a Teen Choice!
The Weeknd begins “Reminder” by singing “Record man, play my song on the radio.” He’s telling the music industry that he belongs on the front lines. He complains that it’s too busy “trying to find that blue-eyed soul,” which could be a reference to singers like Charlie Puth who sing soulfully and emotionally. The Weeknd wants them to listen to him and take him seriously.
He even makes this argument racial. Not only did he compare himself to “blue-eyed soul” (a.k.a. white soul singers), but he sings that he lets his “black hair grow.” This is who he is because of who he was born, but he also defines himself by his choices when he sings “and my weed smoke.” He is black (Ethiopian in particular) and enjoys weed, and he’s not looking to change.
When he sings, “And I sweat too much on the regular,” he’s telling us that he has to work hard for what he gets. But it’s worth it when “[w]e gon’ let them hits fly, we gon’ let her go.” He follows this up with “If it ain’t XO, then it gotta go.” XO is a reference to his personal brand, and he’s claiming that what he makes is the best.
The next part dwells on him winning a Teen Choice award for the work he did on “Can’t Feel My Face.” He sings, “I just won a new award for a kid’s show / Talking ’bout a face numbing off a bag of blow.” Not only is this confirmation that “Can’t Feel My Face” is about cocaine, not a woman, but it marks an important moment of self-definition for The Weeknd. He’s not going to explicitly pander to children as an audience and would rather adults take him seriously.
He sings, “I’m like goddamn, bitch, I am not a Teen Choice / I am not a bleach boy.” The last line is a pun: not only are his lyrics not “clean” enough for children to listen to, but as a musician he’s nothing like the Beach Boys who were far more tame.
He continues by singing that he’s going to “make a nigga understand” how great he is. He sings that he’s “[g]ot that Hannibal, Silence of the Lambo”–a reference to his Lamborghini. He’s going to “[h]it the gas so hard make it rotate,” which means that it’ll spin out when he accelerates.
The last few lines seem randomly thrown together. His “niggas blew up like a propane” line suggests that his friends started to get popular because of him, and “All these R&B niggas be so lame” seems to be an insult to his secondary genre–R&B. Pop has treated him well, and it’s where he wants to stay. His line “Got a sweet Asian chick, she go low, mane,” is a pun on Lo Mein, an Asian dish and is about having sex with her.
Chorus: Reminder Alert!
The chorus is a simple reminder that The Weeknd will remind people of who he is. He sings, “You know me . . . . / Every time you try to forget who I am / I’ll be right there to remind you again.” He’s not planning on going anywhere and wants to make it difficult for anyone to not take him seriously.
Verse 2: Bucket List of Being Bad
The second verse of “Reminder” is about all of the things The Weeknd does that others wouldn’t approve of. It seems to almost be a list of reasons he shouldn’t be considered for a Teen Choice award.
Him wanting to “swim in something wetter than the ocean” is a reference to sex, as are the lines “And I come back to my city, I f**k every girl I know” and “That good sex, we’ll sweat it out / Hotel bed springs we’ll wear it out.” He sings about drugs and alcohol in the following lines: “Faded off a double cup, I’m mixing up the potion,” “sipping on that codeine,” and “Pour it in my trophies, roll until my nose bleed.”
He sings about making music and money in the following lines: “All I wanna do is make that money and make dope shit,” “Platinum off a mixtape,” Imma keep on singing while I’m burning up that OG [Original Gangster],” and “Rock a chain around my neck, making sure I’m getting home / When I travel around the globe, make a couple mil[lion] a show.” He also disses other singers when he sings, “It just seem like niggas tryna sound like all my old shit / Everybody knows it, all these niggas know me.” He gives props to his crew when he sings, “All my niggas get it, they make money all alone,” complimenting his friends on their abilities to do well for themselves.
But interestingly, part of this verse is also about him trying to be a little bit more “straight-laced.” He sings, “Used to walk around with a slouch, had a mattress on the floor / Now my shit straight.” He’s being more responsible and claiming to have gained some maturity. He’s “[e]ating all day, tryna lose weight” too.
Bridge: Shake It
In the bridge of “Remidner,” The Weeknd sings about a woman who he’s asking for sexual favors from. He sings, “Why don’t you shake something, shake something / For the Don, don’t you break nothing, break nothing / Big girl, won’t you work something, work something / For the Don, don’t you hurt nothing, hurt nothing.” He seems to be referring to himself as “the Don,” and he’s singing about her body.
“Reminder” Deeper Song Lyrics Meaning
There’s not too much deeper to “Remidner,” but The Weeknd does seem to be reminding everyone that he writes music for adults. He wants to be taken seriously and not be seen as an entertainer for children or teens. It’s funny that he complains about in the first verse and that the second verse seems to be a list of reasons for why parents shouldn’t let their children listen to his music, and I suspect that he meant that on purpose.
“Reminder” is an interesting song, and I hope you’ll read some of my other explanations of his other Starboy album songs. Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading! I’m a college English instructor, university writing center director, and online entrepreneur (college for under $15k, anyone?) who cares deeply about TRUTH and MEANING. I’m married to the gloriously beautiful Wife April and love to swing dance and juggle. Check out my YouTube channel where I explain even more songs!