The Weeknd

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The Weeknd
WeekndOVOFest.jpg
The Weeknd performing at the OVO Fest in 2011
Background information
Birth nameAbel Tesfaye
Born( 1990-02-16) February 16, 1990 (age 23)
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
GenresPBR&B
OccupationsSinger, songwriter, producer
Years active2010–present
LabelsXO, Republic
Associated actsDrake
WebsiteTheWeeknd.com
 
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The Weeknd
WeekndOVOFest.jpg
The Weeknd performing at the OVO Fest in 2011
Background information
Birth nameAbel Tesfaye
Born( 1990-02-16) February 16, 1990 (age 23)
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
GenresPBR&B
OccupationsSinger, songwriter, producer
Years active2010–present
LabelsXO, Republic
Associated actsDrake
WebsiteTheWeeknd.com

Abel Tesfaye (born February 16, 1990), known by his stage name The Weeknd, is a Canadian PBR&B[1] recording artist 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.[2] The following year, he released a compilation album, Trilogy, consisting of remastered versions of the mixtape material 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".

The Weeknd has received praise from several music publications, including Pitchfork,[3] MTV,[4] BET,[5] Rolling Stone,[6] XXL[7] and The Source.[8] MTV's John Norris has dubbed him the "songbird of his generation" and the "best musical talent since Michael Jackson".[9]

Early life[edit]

The Weeknd was born Abel Tesfaye in Scarborough, Ontario,[10] on February 16, 1990.[11] He is of Ethiopian descent.[10] He grew up listening to a variety of music genres, including soul, quiet storm, hip hop, funk, indie rock, and post-punk.[12] Because Tesfaye's father was never around when he was growing up, and his mother was constantly working, his grandma took care of him most of his young life. Because of this, Abel speaks fluent Amharic; it was the first language he learned.[13]

Tesfaye says he adopted the stage name, "The Weeknd," after dropping out of high school at the age of 17 and, along with a fellow crew-member, "left one weekend and never came home." The spelling was modified to avoid copyright issues with a Canadian band already named "The Weekend".[14]

Career[edit]

2010–11: Beginnings and mixtapes[edit]

In Toronto, Tesfaye met producer Jeremy Rose, who had an idea for a dark R&B musical project called "The Weekend". After trying to pitch the idea to musician Curtis Santiago, Rose played one of his instrumentals for Tesfaye, who freestyled over it, and they began working on an album. He produced three songs—"What You Need", "Loft Music", and "The Morning"—and others that Tesfaye rapped on, which Rose ultimately scrapped. Rose let Tesfaye keep the tracks he had produced under the condition that he would ultimately be credited for them.[15] However, in December 2010, Tesfaye uploaded "What You Need", "Loft Music", and "The Morning" to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd",[16] though his identity was initially unknown.[17][18] The songs drew attention online through word of mouth, including a blog featuring the songs posted by Toronto-based rapper Drake,[15] who also helped generate interest in the Weeknd.[19] They subsequently received coverage from outlets such as Pitchfork Media and The New York Times.

On March 21, 2011, Tesfaye released the nine-track mixtape House of Balloons for free through his website.[20] It featured production by Illangelo and Doc McKinney, although it did not credit Rose for his tracks.[15] House of Balloons was met with critical acclaim,[21] and was named as one of ten shortlisted nominees for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[22]

In July, the Weeknd embarked on a tour and delivered his first performance at the Mod Club in Toronto. The hour-and-a-half long performance created buzz about him.[23] His next performance took place at Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. He collaborated with rapper Drake and appeared as one of the special guests to Drake’s 2nd Annual OVO Fest on July 31, 2011.[24] During the summer, the press noted that the Weeknd refused to participate in interviews and chose to only communicate via Twitter.[25] His second mixtape Thursday was released on August 18, 2011, as a free digital download from the Weeknd's website, and was well received by critics.[26] The Weeknd's third mixtape, titled Echoes of Silence, was released on December 21, 2011.[26][27] Upon this release, the three 2011 mixtapes were collectively known as the Balloons Trilogy,[28] each receiving critical acclaim and growing Tesfaye's fanbase.[11]

2012–present: Touring and record deal[edit]

The Weeknd at the Ultra Music Festival, 2013

In April 2012, the Weeknd began his US tour by performing at the Coachella Festival.[29] He and his band visited various major cities,[29] and culminated in New York, where two sold-out shows were positively reviewed by Rolling Stone.[6] Tesfaye and his tour band continued in major European festivals, including the Primavera Sound Festivals in Spain and Portugal,[30] Wireless Festival in London,[31] plus concerts in Paris and Brussels. At his debut UK show in London, he covered Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" in front of an audience which included Katy Perry and Florence Welch.[32] In June, it was reported that the Balloons Trilogy had been downloaded 8 million times and that it would be formally released later in the year.[32]

In September 2012, The Weeknd signed with Republic Records in a joint venture with his own imprint label XO.[33] The compilation album Trilogy was released in November, consisting of remastered versions of the mixtapes and three additional songs.[34][better source needed] It also officially credited Rose as a producer and writer on three songs from House of Balloons.[35] On December 9, the BBC announced that the Weeknd had been nominated for the Sound of 2013 poll.[36]

On May 16, 2013, The Weeknd premiered the title track to his debut studio album Kiss Land,[37] which he said will be released on September 10.[38] It was also promoted by the singles "Belong to the World", "Live For" featuring Drake and The Weeknd's "The Fall" tour beginning in September.[39][40] Kiss Land received generally positive reviews from music critics.[41] The Weeknd also appeared on the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, contributing "Devil May Cry" and featuring on "Elastic Heart", the second single from the soundtrack.[42][43]

Artistry[edit]

The Weeknd's songs are "built around a fogged, crepuscular production",[44] and feature slow tempos,[45] rumbling bass, and forlorn echoes.[10] The Weeknd sings in a falsetto register,[46] and exhibits a pleading, anxious tone. J. D. Considine finds his singing's "tremulous quality" similar to Michael Jackson, but writes that he eschews Jackson's "strong basis in the blues" for a more Arabic-influenced melisma.[47] His music incorporates samples that are unconventional in R&B production, including punk and alternative rock.[47] Marc Hogan of Spin says that The Weeknd's samples tend "to draw from rock critic-approved sources, though generally ones that already share elements of his sexual menace", with samples of artists such as Beach House, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Aaliyah.[48] The Weeknd worked mostly with producers Illangelo and Doc McKinney, whom Pitchfork Media's Ian Cohen credits with developing "a state-of-the-art R&B template" with the Weeknd.[45] In concert, the Weeknd reappropriates their digitized productions with a suite-like arena rock aesthetic.[10]

His emotional, plaintive lyrics often express feelings of hurt and deal with subject matter such as sex,[44] drugs, and partying.[10] Hermoine Hoby of The Guardian characterizes the Weeknd's songs as "narcotised-slow jams" and delineates their message as "partying is an existential experience, sex is fraught with alienation, and everything registers as unreal and unsettling."[44] The Guardian's Paul MacInnes interprets the Weeknd's trilogy of mixtapes as "a rough trajectory of party, after-party and hangover".[49] Anupa Mistry of the Toronto Standard observes throughout his mixtapes a "cast of supine, stoned zombie-women ... whose legs willingly part after being plied with substances and who morph into threats only when [he is] coming down and feeling vulnerable."[10] The Weeknd viewed that, by singing vulgar, ignorant lyrics in an elegant, sexy way, he is paying homage to R. Kelly and to some degree Prince.[50]

Music journalists associate the Weeknd with PBR&B, an emerging wave of recording artists whose music expands on the sound and sensibility of R&B.[44] Mistry writes that he "will be obsequiously praised as the future of R&B music – because [he] is a black singer, not because he’s making quantifiable, canonical R&B".[10] Allmusic's Andy Kellman categorizes him as an "alternative R&B act".[11] Prior to his major label deal, the Weeknd withheld his identity and maintained an enigmatic, shadowy persona while releasing his mixtapes online. On social media outlets such as Twitter, he suffixed his name with "xo".[44] According to Hoby, it is meant as an emoticon for "a kiss and a hug",[44] while VH1's Zara Golden said that it is instead a reference to his recreational use of ecstasy and oxycodone.[51]

Discography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearCeremonyNominated workCategoryResult
20112011 Polaris Music Prize[52]House of BalloonsCanadian Polaris Music PrizeNominated
2012MTV O Music Awards[53]"Wicked Games"Too Much Ass for TVWon
HimselfBest Web-born ArtistWon
2012 mtvU Music Awards[54]HimselfBreaking WoodieWon
Sirius XM Indie Awards[55]HimselfSolo Artist of the YearWon
2013Sound of...HimselfSound of 2013[36]Nominated
Juno AwardsHimselfBreakthrough Artist of the YearWon
TrilogyR&B/Soul Recording of the YearWon
BET AwardsHimselfBest New ArtistNominated
MuchMusic Video Awards"Wicked Games"Video of the YearNominated
MTV Video Music Awards[56]"Wicked Games"Artist to WatchNominated
Best Visual EffectsNominated
2014Grammy Awards"Remember You"Best Rap/Sung CollaborationPending

"*" - listed contributor, not principal artist

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walters, Barry (August 22, 2012). "Frank Ocean, Miguel, and Holy Other Usher in PBR&B 2.0". Spin (New York). Retrieved October 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ "House of Balloons – The Weeknd". Metacritic. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ Colly, Joe (March 29, 2011). "Album Reviews – The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ Rob Markman (December 8, 2011). "Drake's Boy The Weeknd Drops My Favorite 2011 Album". MTV. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Weeknd". Bet.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Krishnamurthy, Sowmya (April 29, 2012). "The Weeknd Mesmerizes at Bowery Ballroom". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved May 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Weeknd Partners With Republic Records". Xxlmag.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ "The Weeknd – Initiation". Thesource.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  9. ^ Soriano, Kristen; Solomon, Michael; Stern, Claire (May 11, 2012). "The Weeknd, 22, recording artist – 30 Under 30: The Essential Names to Know". Elle (New York). Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Mistry, Anupa. "Daily Disc: The Weeknd's 'Echoes Of Silence'". Torontostandard.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c Kellman, Andy. "The Weeknd – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Roberts, Randall (December 17, 2012). "Review: Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd, has hall smoldering". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1714103/the-weeknd-reddit-ama.jhtml
  14. ^ "The Weeknd Reveals How He Got His Name... And Where The 'E' Went". MTV. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c McGuire, Patrick (April 2012). "How the Producer of the Weeknd’s Breakout Tracks Got Majorly Screwed". Vice (New York). Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  16. ^ Caramanica A-Train, Jon (2010-12-36). "Screams That Charmed, and Other Overlooked Highlights". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  17. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (March 4, 2011). "The Playlist – The Weeknd – What You Need". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  18. ^ Stewart, Allison (March 14, 2011). "Singles File: Da Phuture, The Weeknd, Fever Ray". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  19. ^ Escobedo Shepherd, Julianne (March 23, 2011). "Love and Other Drugs: The Weeknd’s Altered-State R&B". WNET. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  20. ^ Ramirez, Erika (March 21, 2011). "Say Hello to the Weeknd, Drake Co-Signs". MTV. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  21. ^ "House of Balloons Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  22. ^ "The 2011 Shortlist|Polaris Music Prize"
  23. ^ Ritchie, Kevin (July 25, 2011). The Weeknd’s perfect premiere.NOW Toronto". Retrieved March 28, 2012
  24. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (July 3, 2011). "The Weeknd to Play Drake's OVO Festival". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  25. ^ Melody Lau (July 25, 2011). "Mysterious R&B singer sells out first show". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Dunlevy, T’Cha (March 23, 2012). "365 days of Weeknd: We chart Abel Tesfaye’s rise to fame a year after House of Balloons" .National Post. Retrieved March 27, 2012
  27. ^ The Weeknd's Official site Official Site. Retrieved March 28, 2012
  28. ^ "Echoes Of Silence The Weeknd reveals final part of the Balloons Trilogy The Line Of Best Fit". theLineofBestFit.com. December 22, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Snapes, Laura (April 16, 2012). "Abel Tesfaye makes his U.S. debut". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  30. ^ Luis Tovar. "The Weeknd announces first ever tour". prettymuchamazing.com. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Wireless line up 2012". wirelessfestival.co.uk. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  32. ^ a b "The Weeknd covers Michael Jackson as he plays his debut UK show". NME (London). Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  33. ^ Hampp, Andrew (November 12, 2012). "The Weeknd & Reps Talk Clearing Samples, Touring For 'Trilogy' Release". Billboard (New York). Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  34. ^ "The Weeknd Shares 'Rolling Stone' Video, Trilogy Artwork". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  35. ^ Trilogy (CD liner notes). The Weeknd. Republic Records. 2012. 3719793.
  36. ^ a b "Sound of 2013 Profiles: The Weeknd". BBC. December 9, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  37. ^ Nostro, Lauren (May 16, 2013). "Listen: The Weeknd "Kiss Land"". Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  38. ^ Williott, Carl (July 22, 2013). "The Weeknd Unveils ‘Kiss Land’ Release Date & Cover Artwork". Idolator. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  39. ^ "The Weeknd’s ‘Kiss Land’ Arrives on August 27th, "Belong To The World" Snippet". ThisGoesIn. July 13, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  40. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Live-For-feat-Drake/dp/B00EP54R5U
  41. ^ "Kiss Land Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  42. ^ Hakimian, Rob (19 November 2013). "Album Review: Various Artists – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  43. ^ "Elastic Heart (From "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" Soundtrack) [feat. The Weeknd, Diplo]: Sia". Amazon.com. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  44. ^ a b c d e f Hoby, Hermione (November 8, 2012). "The Weeknd: Sounds and sensibility". The Guardian (London). section G2, p. 12. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  45. ^ a b Cohen, Ian (November 13, 2012). "The Weeknd: Trilogy". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  46. ^ Robbins, Winston (December 7, 2011). "Rookie of the Year: The Weeknd". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  47. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (November 17, 2012). "How The Weeknd became R&B’s next big thing". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  48. ^ Hogan, Marc (October 26, 2012). "The Weeknd Imbues 'Enemy' With the Smiths' Seductive Power". Spin (New York). Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  49. ^ MacInnes, Paul (November 15, 2012). "The Weeknd: Trilogy – review". The Guardian (London). section G2, p. 23. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  50. ^ Morgan, Nakiya (July 15, 2013). "The Weeknd's Kiss Land Album Captures First Experiences Outside Of Toronto". MTV News. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  51. ^ Golden, Zara (November 16, 2012). "Who Is The Weeknd? 5 Things You Should Know". VH1. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  52. ^ Polaris Music Prize, (September 19, 2011). "The 2011 Shortlist" . Polaris Music Prize. Retrieved March 28, 2012
  53. ^ MTV, (August 28, 2011). "O Music Awards" . MTV O Music Awards. Retrieved March 28, 2012
  54. ^ mtvU, (March 18, 2012). "Breaking Woodie" . mtvU. Retrieved March 28, 2012
  55. ^ Sirius XM, (January 26, 2012). "2012 Winners/Nominees" . Sirius XM. Retrieved March 28, 2012
  56. ^ "Artist To Watch 2013 MTV Video Music Awards". MTV. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 

External links[edit]