Biography The Weeknd
The Weeknd is a Canadian musician and rapper, record producer and songwriter who originally gained notoriety as an anonymous YouTube artist. Performer of famous singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming”.
Pictured: The Weeknd
Winner of two Grammys and an Oscar nominee. Since 2017, he has been on the Forbes top 30 list of the highest paid artists under 30 years old with an annual income of over $90 million.
Childhood and youth
The real name of the musician The Weeknd is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye. He was born and raised in Toronto, Canada’s largest metropolitan area. A third of the city’s population at that time consisted of immigrants, which were his parents – Makkonen and Saira Tesfaye. They moved to Toronto from civil war-torn Ethiopia in the late 80s.
The Weeknd as a child
The Tesfaye family settled in Scarborough, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Toronto. The father paid little attention to the family, and left it after the birth of Abel. While the mother disappeared for days at work, the grandmother was engaged in raising the boy, who told her grandson a lot about the historical homeland and national Amharic traditions. Even now you can see an amulet on the musician’s chest that reminds him of his roots.
Since Abel’s native area was extremely disadvantaged, the future musician smoked weed at the age of 11 and traded in theft. By the age of seventeen, he was completely out of hand, and moved from marijuana to harder drugs.
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye in his youth
In 2007, Abel left school and rented a small apartment with a friend. According to the artist, she was extremely shabby and looked dysfunctional. From morning to evening, Abel indulged in drugs with friends and listened to music.
From childhood, the future artist was inspired by the work of Prince and R. Kelly, and he considered Michael Jackson to be his idol.
Abel dreamed of devoting his life to creativity and becoming a famous performer as a teenager, but at first he had little idea how to realize this idea. Abel tried to organize his own group, write music and lyrics, but all these attempts faded against the backdrop of the fantastic success of Justin Bieber and other young musicians who led the first lines of the world charts.
The Weeknd at the beginning of his career
Starting to live on his own, Abel tried to earn his living and got a job as a sales assistant in a fashion store, and performed in nightclubs in the evenings. At one of these parties, he met musician and producer Jeremy Rose, who became interested in the work of an aspiring musician and offered him cooperation. Together with Jeremy Abel, he recorded three tracks in which Rose’s instrumental harmonized perfectly with Tesfaye’s clean, melodic vocals.
In 2010, the project was named “The Weeknd”. Abel took such a pseudonym in memory of the period when he began an independent life and left school. According to the musician, then he “left one fine weekend and did not return home.” To avoid litigation with the Canadian band The Weekend, the artist intentionally omitted a letter from his pseudonym.
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye takes on the pseudonym The Weeknd
Cooperation with Rose promised to be quite successful, if not for the conflict of interest that soon arose between the performer and producer. In December 2010, Abel refused to cooperate and, under the nickname The Weeknd, independently uploaded the tracks “What You Need”, “Loft Music” and “The Morning” to Youtube. Gradually, the songs began to gain views. The musician gained even more popularity after the already established artist Drake shared his composition with subscribers.
In the winter of 2011, The Weeknd posted on YouTube their debut album “House of Balloons”, which collected the best of their tracks. Enlisting the support of fans and all the same Drake, who provided him with his studio for free, the rapper prepared a concert program and in July of the same year went on his first tour with her.
The cover of The Weeknd’s debut album “House of Balloons”
When he returned, he recorded two more mixtapes “Thursday” and “Echoes of Silence”, which, along with the first one, were included in the compilation “Trilogy” (2012). The singer’s signature style was already clearly visible in it – pure angelic vocals combined with brutal cynical lyrics containing indecent allusions. The main themes of the collection were depression, sex and drugs. The Weeknd’s tracks began to go beyond the usual structure and timing, but the fans were delighted.
Prior to the release of the album in 2012, Abel was shy of the attention of fans, but soon there was no trace of his former modesty. The Weeknd realized that he was on the right track and he had very little left to conquer the musical Olympus. To improve the quality of performances, Tesfaye took up dancing, hired a vocal coach, and often reviewed his concerts to correct mistakes and further make the show even more spectacular.
The Weeknd and Drake
In 2012, after touring the United States on a major tour and visiting several major European festivals, Abel began recording a full-length studio album. On September 10, 2013, the official presentation of the Kiss Land album took place, which fully met the expectations of The Weeknd fans and confidently entered the top five records of the outgoing year.
The popularity of the weekend was added by the composition “Devil May Cry”, which became the soundtrack to the fantastic action movie “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. After the release of the film in 2013, many popular performers became interested in Abel’s work, and they began to offer him interesting collaborations. In late 2013 and early 2014, The Weeknd joined Justin Timberlake on his world tour, worked with Sia and Beyonce, and also recorded a duet with Ariana Grande.
In December 2014, the public was presented with the song “Earned It”, which became the soundtrack to the popular melodrama “50 Shades of Grey” and received an Oscar as the best song for the film. She also appeared on the album “Beauty Behind the Madness”, which was released in the summer of 2015 and in record time became the leader of the charts in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and many other countries. In December, the collection was named the most listened to album of 2015 and took an honorable fifth place in the Rolling Stone magazine rating.
The presentation of the legendary album “Starboy” took place in the fall of 2016. In his support, the musician shot a short film directed by Grant Singer. The audience reacted violently not only to the new musical material, but also to the change in the image of the artist – Abel cut off his signature dreadlocks, which have already become his hallmark.
Madonna and The Weeknd (2016)
In parallel, the performer continued to collaborate with other artists – his collaborations with Kanye West, Beyoncé and the French band Daft Punk made a lot of noise in the music world, The Weeknd’s creative duets with the American rapper Future and singer Lana Del Rey also turned out to be successful.
The Weeknd on stage (2017)
In 2017, in the wake of the Weeknd’s success, it was announced that the artist plans to take part in Rihanna’s world tour, but at the last moment The Weeknd changed his mind and focused on recording another collection. Subsequently, he admitted that he had lost a lot of money because of this, but he still considers his act to be the right one. The fact is that Abel was determined to become the biggest star on the planet, and for this he needed a new album.
The artist’s personal life is widely discussed in the press and arouses no less interest among the public than his impetuous career. This is not surprising, because two of the most desirable girls in the world managed to visit his arms – American top model Bella Hadid and popular singer and actress Selena Gomez.
The Weeknd – Canadian musician
Abel met Bella at the fashionable American festival Coachella in 2015, where world celebrities gather every year. Impressed by her sophisticated beauty, the Weeknd invited the girl to star in his video for the song “In The Night”. The joint work brought the young people closer, and they began to meet.
Lovers openly appeared in public and, without hesitation, showed their feelings. In 2016, they both participated in the Victoria’s Secret show. Fans admired their couple and followed the development of relations with interest. However, the love idyll did not last long, and after a year and a half, Bella and Abel broke up.
The Weeknd at the Victoria’s Secret Show
In January 2017, the ubiquitous paparazzi caught the rapper in the company of Selena Gomez. The couple had dinner at one of the restaurants in Los Angeles, and at first glance it was clear that this was not a business date at all. Finding that they were declassified, the lovers stopped hiding and went on a romantic trip to Florence. After that, they appeared together several times at social events, but a few months later they unexpectedly announced a break in relations. According to the official version, the artists did not have the same work schedules, and this greatly interfered with their relationship.
The Weeknd and Selena Gomez
In 2018, Gomez briefly returned to Justin Bieber, and The Weeknd again found himself in the arms of Bella Hadid. The lovers were together for more than a year and even thought about the upcoming wedding, but in August 2019 the artists broke up again, and again due to busy work schedules.
The Weeknd and Bella Hadid
However, they continue to maintain friendly relations, communicate by phone and in social networks. Abel was invited to Bella’s 23rd birthday, as evidenced by their joint photos on Instagram. And after the release of his new album “After Hours”, fans began to claim that the Heartless track is dedicated to Hadid, and in this way the singer is trying to revive the former bright feelings again.
The Weeknd now
In March 2023, The Weeknd presented his fourth album After Hours, which, like the previous ones, immediately soared to the top of the world charts. Most of the tracks are dedicated to his past – in them the singer reflects on whether he managed to become a different person and correct the mistakes of his youth.
The video sequence of this album is closely related to the crime drama “Rough Diamonds”, where Abel played “himself from 2011”. The film also features a soundtrack composed by The Weeknd and starring Adam Sandler. The artist supported his new album with a limited collection of hoodies, T-shirts and hats with the After Hours logo. Leading sportswear designers and world famous fashion brands took part in their development.
To date, The Weeknd has almost achieved his ambitious goal of becoming the new king of the world of music – his income is measured in tens of millions of dollars, and back in 2017, the singer topped the Forbes “thirty” in the ranking of sports and show business stars under 30 years old. Fans call Abel “the second Michael Jackson.”
The artist does a lot of philanthropy and regularly transfers large sums to a charitable organization that develops and popularizes Geza, the traditional language of the indigenous people of Ethiopia. Abel also actively supports the movement against discrimination against the black population of the planet and even refused to cooperate with a large global clothing chain because of a racist photo posted on their website.