Ethiopian-Canadian singer, songwriter and record producer Abel Tesfaye – known as The Weeknd – began his career when he anonymously uploaded a range of songs to video sharing site YouTube in 2010.
Born in 1990 in Scarborough, Ontario, The Weeknd was buoyed by the success of his YouTube videos and released three nine-track mixtapes the following year, entitled House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence. Each of these mixtapes went on to be critically acclaimed, propelling the singer onto the world stage for the first time.
Drawing heavily on Ethiopian influences and featuring Amharic, the primary language of Ethiopia and the singer’s native tongue – the music also caught the attention of Drake, a fellow Canadian singer who had hit the bigtime. Drake shared some The Weeknd’s songs on his blog, as well as issuing an invitation to work alongside him on his album, Take Care, which went on to win a Grammy.
Following this success, The Weeknd went on to release Trilogy, a compilation album, under his own label XO and Republic Records. Now hailed by critics as one of R&B’s new ‘torchbearers,’ The Weeknd released his debut studio album Kiss Land in 2013, swiftly followed by Beauty Behind the Madness. It was this song that earned him his first number one album spot on the Billboard 200.
Some of his best known songs including The Hills – described as a ‘dark, almost discordant meditation on lust, drugs, and fame,’ by Pitchfork.com – Earned It and Can’t Feel My Face, also came from this album. This rising star has achieved something no other artist in history has yet managed to do – each of the three songs mentioned above have held down the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.