Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known professionally as the Weeknd, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer celebrated for his unique music style, creative transformations, and distinctive falsetto vocals.
He has received numerous awards, including Grammy, Billboard Music, Juno, American Music, and MTV Video Music Awards, as well as nominations for an Academy Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.
Born and raised in Toronto, Tesfaye began his musical journey in 2009 by sharing his music on YouTube under an alias.
He co-founded the XO record label two years later and gained attention for his mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. These releases showcased his contemporary and alternative R&B style and added an air of mystery to his persona. Signing with Republic Records in 2012, he combined these mixtapes into the Trilogy compilation album. His first studio album, Kiss Land (2013), incorporated dark wave elements and debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200.
Tesfaye expanded his influence by contributing to film soundtracks, notably winning a Grammy for “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey.
His pop-oriented second album, Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), topped the charts with hits like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills.” The album won a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album and earned an Album of the Year nomination. His trap-influenced third album, Starboy (2016), repeated this success and included the Grammy-winning title track.
In 2020, he delved into new wave and dream pop in his critically acclaimed album After Hours, featuring the record-breaking single “Blinding Lights” and other chart-toppers.
His dance-pop-inspired fifth album, Dawn FM (2022), continued his streak with the hit “Take My Breath.” Outside of music, he ventured into acting, co-creating, and starring in the series The Idol in 2023, though it faced negative reviews.
The weekend impact extends to his chart achievements and record sales. He broke records on Billboard and Spotify, becoming the first artist to dominate the top three spots on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and achieving the most-streamed song on Spotify with “Blinding Lights.”
His cultural influence was recognized by Time’s inclusion of him in their influential people list and by Guinness World Records, who dubbed him the “world’s most popular artist” in 2023.
Additionally, he took on roles as a World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador, advocating for racial equality and food security.
The Weeknd Wikipedia Profile
|Abel Makkonen Tesfaye
|Date of birth
|February 16, 1990
|33 years old
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, born on February 16, 1990, in Toronto, Canada, grew up in Scarborough with his mother and grandmother, as his parents separated shortly after his birth. Despite a distant relationship with his father, he holds no judgment, recognizing his father’s absence rather than any negative behavior.
Raised in the Ethiopian Orthodox faith, Tesfaye, uncertain about his religious stance, views life as a series of tests for all, whether religious or spiritual.
He learned Amharic, his native language, from his grandmother and later became fluent in French through immersion schooling.
The weekend academic journey led him through West Hill Collegiate Institute and Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute. At 17, he left school, moved to Parkdale with friends, and embraced a hedonistic lifestyle reminiscent of the 1995 movie Kids.”
During this period, Tesfaye faced challenges like homelessness and incarceration, which prompted him to change his focus and outlook.
He openly admits to using drugs like ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, magic mushrooms, and cough syrup. However, he revealed that drugs were a “crutch” for his music creation and in recent years, he has transitioned to a more sober lifestyle.
Tesfaye now avoids most drugs, except for marijuana, and has significantly reduced his alcohol consumption, acknowledging that the allure of drinking has faded.
The Weeknd, revealed that his stage name originates from a moment when he left both high school and his family’s home one weekend and didn’t return.
Around three years later, he crossed paths with a producer named Jeremy Rose. Rose had been toying with the idea of crafting “dark R&B” and saw Tesfaye as the ideal front-runner for this genre.
They collaborated on multiple tracks, with Tesfaye using various aliases like “Kin Kane” and “The Noise.” With Rose’s consent, Tesfaye shared the songs on YouTube, swiftly amassing a significant fanbase, even grabbing the attention of Drake.
The Weeknd’s inaugural significant release, titled House of Balloons, was a mixtape that featured contributions from diverse producers, including Jeremy Rose. However, Rose didn’t receive the agreed-upon credit.
The mixtape proved a monumental triumph, earning accolades from Drake. Drake not only praised The Weeknd but also attended his early shows and proposed a collaboration.
The two Canadian artists subsequently embarked on a joint tour, during which The Weeknd frequently served as Drake’s opening act. After releasing two more mixtapes, The Weeknd received offers from major record labels vying to sign him.
In 2012, The Weeknd joined forces with Republic Records, establishing his very own label called XO, operating under Republic Records’ umbrella. This collaboration led to the launch of Trilogy, a compilation of his initial three mixtapes, finally recognizing Jeremy Rose’s production contributions. This album performed remarkably, securing the fourth spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
The artist’s debut studio album, titled Kiss Land, emerged the following year. With guest appearances by Drake on multiple tracks, it swiftly entered the second position on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The subsequent years witnessed The Weeknd engaging in fruitful partnerships with notable figures like Justin Timberlake and Ariana Grande, accompanied by extensive touring.
Beauty Behind the Madness, his second studio album, made its debut in 2015. Within its first week, it recorded an impressive 412,000 units sold, swiftly ascending to the pinnacle of the U.S. Billboard 200. The album later achieved platinum status, exceeding 1.5 million global sales. Shortly thereafter, he achieved a historic feat as the first male artist to monopolize the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Chart with three platinum-selling singles.
2016 brought the release of his subsequent album, Starboy, which notably featured collaborations with the renowned French electronic duo, Daft Punk. Following a series of successful collaborations and another round of enthralling tours, The Weeknd unveiled My Dear Melancholy in 2018.
His musical accomplishments were highlighted by setting a Guinness World Record in 2017 for achieving the Most Streamed Album on Spotify within a single year.
In the same year, he introduced his first compilation of greatest hits, The Weeknd in Japan. Looking ahead, he disclosed the title of his forthcoming album, After Hours, in 2020. Finally, in 2022, he treated his fans to the release of Dawn FM.
Tesfaye, widely recognized for his private nature, deliberately keeps his personal life away from the public gaze. When he began his career, he avoided interviews, opting instead to communicate through Twitter due to shyness and insecurities. Even today, he maintains his stance on limited interviews, agreeing only in rare cases.
From April 2015 to August 2019, Tesfaye had an intermittent relationship with American model Bella Hadid. She featured in the music video for his song “In the Night” in December 2015. He also dated American singer-actress Selena Gomez from January to October 2017. Both these relationships attracted considerable media attention and fueled tabloid speculation.
One of Tesfaye’s standout features is his hairstyle, which is said to be partly influenced by American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
He began growing it in 2011, mentioning how easy it was to maintain. He chopped off his hair in 2016 before releasing “Starboy.” On social media, he commonly added “xo” to his name, resembling hugs and kisses. Some thought this was linked to his drug use, while others believed it was more innocent. In anticipation of “Starboy,” he changed his social media handles to match his stage name.
In January 2015, Tesfaye was arrested for supposedly assaulting a police officer in Las Vegas. The incident occurred when he was taken into an elevator to resolve a fight. He pleaded no contest and was ordered to complete fifty hours of community service.
His net worth is estimated to be >$130 million.
As of August 2021, Tesfaye resided in Bel Air, Los Angeles. He had previously bought a home in Hidden Hills, California for $18.5 million in 2017, which he sold to Madonna in 2021 for $19.3 million. Earlier, he lived in penthouses in Westwood, Los Angeles, and New York City.
In April 2023, during an interview with Interview Magazine, Tesfaye shared that he deals with attention deficit disorder.