The Weeknd

the Weeknd on stage

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (born 16 February 1990), known professionally as The Weeknd (pronounced "the weekend"), is a Canadian singer, songwriter and record producer. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd". He released three nine-track mixtapes throughout 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence which were critically acclaimed. In 2012, he released a compilation album Trilogy, thirty tracks consisting of the remastered mixtapes and three additional songs. It was released under Republic Records and his own label XO. In 2013, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, which was supported by the singles "Kiss Land" and "Live For". His second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, which became his first number one albumon the US Billboard 200, included the number-three single "Earned It" and produced the number-one singles "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face".The songs have simultaneously held the top three spots onthe Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, making him the first artist in history to achieve this. The Weeknd has won two Grammy Awards and nine Juno Awards. In September 2016, the release of the third album Starboy was announced along with the release of the title track single "Starboy", which subsequently reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Early life

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye was born on 16 February 1990 in Toronto, Ontario and was raised in the neighbourhood of Scarborough, Ontario, a district in the city's east end. He is the only child of Makkonen and Samra Tesfaye, who were Ethiopian immigrants to Canada in the late 1980s. During his youth, his mother would work several jobs in order to support the family, often taking odd jobs as a nurse and caterer. She would also attend night school to learn English. His father later abandoned the family, prompting his maternal grandmother to take care of Abel. This allowed him to become fluent in Amharic in his early years, with this Semitic language acting as his first language. His grandmother would also take him to services at an Ethiopian Orthodox church. About his father, The Weeknd stated "I saw him vaguely when I was six, and then again when I was 11 or 12, and he had a new family and kids. I don't even know where he lived — I'd see him for, like, a night. I'm sure he's a great guy. I never judged him. He wasn't abusive, he wasn't an alcoholic, he wasn't an asshole. He just wasn't there. Describing his teenage years as "KIDS without the AIDS", The Weeknd first began smoking marijuana once he turned 11, and later moved on to harder drugs, often shoplifting from local supermarkets with a high school friend to supplement his use of ecstasy, oxycodone, xanax, cocaine, psilocybin, and ketamine. He attended both the West Hill Collegiate Institute and Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in the district, however, he did not graduate from either of these high schools.He subsequently chose to dropout from the latter in 2007, and also left home, residing at 65 Spencer Ave in neighbouring Parkdale. He has also credited his stage name as being inspired by his high school dropout status "after he left one weekend and never came home", although, producer Jeremy Rose claims the name was his own idea. The spelling was modified in order to avoid trademark issues with the Canadian band The Weekend.

Business Ventures

In November 2015, to further promote Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd collaborated with PAX Labs to release a limited edition version of the PAX 2 vaporizer, an electronic cigarette that could be used in shows during The Madness Fall Tour. The cigarette featured the "xo" branding on the front, as well as having the ability to play "The Hills" when turned on. With the original PAX 2 priced at $279.99, the limited edition cigarette cost $324.99. PAX also acted as an official sponsor for the tour, presenting special backstage VIP activations for fans who bought packages that included the cigarette. PAX Labs chief marketing officer Richard Mumby stated "Music and fashion have always been a natural fit for Pax...This was the perfect opportunity to bring together The Weeknd's style with our technology." In 2016, The Weeknd announced a partnership with Puma, signing on to the company as the new Global Brand ambassador, and will headline the company's "Run the Streets" campaign. It was launched in early November, with the final collection made available to coincide with the release of Starboy. He also hosted several pop-up retail stores for the "Starboy: Limited Capsule" collection, which were available across North America, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. The Weeknd also began his own XO branded merchandise, which was furthered by a collaboration with H&M to present its Spring 2017 campaign. The campaign would feature new collaborative pieces developed with the singer's brand, and was released on 2 March 2017. In May 2016, the Weeknd had a limited edition pop up sale for the "Starboy 2017 Limited Capsule Collection". The collections were available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami Beach, Houston, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Personal life

The WeekndThe Weeknd began dating model Bella Hadid at the beginning of 2015; the couple were first seen together in April at Coachella. Hadid later starred in his music video "In the Night" in December. They also made their red carpet appearance as a couple at the 2016 Grammy Awards in February. On 11 November 2016, it was reported that the couple had split; citing their conflicting schedules as the rationale for the relationship's termination. On social media outlets, he typically suffixed his first name with "xo". According to writer Hermoine Hoby, it is meant as an emoticon for "a kiss and a hug", while VH1's Zara Golden's stated that it is a reference to his recreational use of ecstasy and oxycodone. He later altered the handles on his social media to reflect his stage name in preparation for the release of Starboy. He is a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones. He enjoys playing video games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In the context of media outlets reporting cases of police brutality, in 2016, he expressed disdain, tweeting "blue lives murder". In May 2016, The Weeknd and Belly cancelled an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! due to Donald Trump being present.

Legal issues

In January 2015, The Weeknd was arrested for punching a Las Vegas police officer. He pleaded no contest, and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service. In December 2015, The Weeknd was sued by Cutting Edge Music, as they alleged that the baseline for "The Hills" was featured in the score for The Machine. The outcomes of the lawsuit are unknown.


Prior to being presented the Bikila Award for Professional Excellence in 2014, he donated $50,000 towards a class at the University of Toronto on Ge'ez, the classic language of Ethiopia. In December 2015, he worked with Ryan Seacrest's foundation to visit Children's Hospital in Atlanta. In 2016, he also donated $250,000 to Black Lives Matter.

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