Born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, he grew up in Toronto, Canada. He began his career writing songs under the name “Tesfaye,” releasing three albums: Kiss Land (2013), Beauty Behind the Madness (2014) and Echoes of Silence (2015). In 2016, he signed with Republic Records and changed his stage name to “The Weeknd.” His debut album Starboy was released in 2017.
Abel Makkonen Tesfayehas been called many things over the course of his career. A rapper, singer, producer, songwriter, actor, author, and entrepreneur, he’s been compared to Kanye West, Drake, Jay Z, Eminem, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Frank Ocean, Prince, Michael Jackson, and even Jesus Christ himself. But what do we know about the man behind the mask?
In 2012, the trio released Trilogy, a mixtape consisting of three EPs: House of Balloons, Thursday Night Lights, and Echoes of Silence. All three were produced by Max Martin, and received critical acclaim.
The group signed a joint deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group in 2013. They released their debut studio album, Kiss Land, in October 2013. It debuted atop the Canadian Albums Chart and was certified platinum in Canada within five weeks of release. It peaked at number six on the US Billboard 200 chart.
Kiss Land spawned four singles: “Call Out My Name”, “High For This,” “Earned It”, and “Can’t Feel My Face”.
The Weeknd won Best New Artist at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. He performed “Earned It” alongside Kendrick Lamar during the ceremony.
2012–2014: Trilogy and Kiss Land
In April 2012, Tesfay began his first international tour, which included performances at Coaches’Concert, sold out shows at the 59th Street Y, and a performance at the Coachella Festival. On November 13, 2012 he released a compilation album consisting of remixes and remasters of his 2011 mixtapess and three additional tracks. He later revealed that it was titled “Trilogy”.
On May 17, 2013, he released the title track to Kiss Land and announced the release date of September 10. The song peaked at number one on the US Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart and became his second single to reach the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number nine. The following week, it rose to number four, becoming his highest-charting single since “1 Thing.”
The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 albums chart and has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The lead single, “Kiss Land”, reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, while the follow up singles, “Where You Been?”, “Higher,” and “Tears Me Up”, respectively reached numbers 33, 51, and 75.
After releasing the album, Tesfaye embarked on a world tour called the Love.