The Weeknd was dubbed the songbird of his generation. He rose above other fellow newcomers with his rich expertise in music. Born Abel Tesfaye in Scarborough, Ontario on February 16, 1990, he grew up listening to a variety of music genres, including soul, quiet storm, hip hop, funk, indie rock, and post-punk.
He dropped out of high school at 17 and "left one weekend and never came home" with some of his friends. It was where his moniker came out. It was supposed to be The Weekend but got altered to avoid copyright issue with a Canadian band of the same name.
Tesfaye worked on his music independently and performed from clubs to clubs, on the street and online until he finally got coverage from Rolling Stone, New York Times and other big publications. His fans grew ever since and he dropped his first mixtape "The House of Balloons" in 2011 to a critical acclaim.
Loaded with songs he crafted over the years, he dropped two more street albums "Thursday" and "Echoes of Silence" for free in the same year. Both received glowing reviews from critics. With his three mixtapes, he developed an enigmatic shadowy persona that set him apart from his competitors.
2012 became a bigger year for him. He landed a spot at Coachella Music Festival in 2012, and a record deal with Republic soon followed. A compilation album "Trilogy" featuring songs from his mixtapes and some new songs were released later in a joint venture with his own imprint label XO.
But his first official debut didn't come out until 2013. "Kiss Land", featuring sole guest Drake, entered Billboard Hot 200 at No. 2 and topped R7B/Hip-Hop Albums. It received positive reviews from music critics and spawned three singles; the title track, "Belong to the World" and Drake-assisted "Live For".
"Kiss Land symbolizes the tour life, but it's a world that I created in my head. Just like House of Balloons symbolizes Toronto and my experiences there, but it's a world that I created. When I think about Kiss Land, I think about a terrifying place. It's a place I've never been to before that I'm very unfamiliar with," he said.
"A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott, because they know how to capture fear. That's what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that's just honest fear. I don't know who I am right now and I'm doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I'm not familiar with."
"To me, it's the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I'm feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie."
"Kiss Land" was both critical and commercial success. Praised by critics, the album landed at No. 2 on Billboard 200.
Following the album's arrival, The Weeknd promoted it with his headlining "King of the Fall" tour in 2014. SchoolBoy Q and Jhene Aiko were supporting the shows. While preparing himself for the tour, he released some new songs including "King of the Fall". For the rest of 2014, he continued crashing the charts with "Love Me Harder" from Ariana Grande's second album and "Earned It" which appears on the soundtrack of "Fifty Shades of Grey". The collaboration with Grande peaked at No. 7 on Billboard Hot 100, while his contribution to the controversial movie reached No. 3 on the same chart.
In May 2015, The Weeknd began teasing his new album by releasing a new song called "The Hills" and its music video. A few weeks later, another song titled "Can't Feel My Face" leaked online. It went on to become the singer's biggest hit to date, reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100. In early July, The Weeknd announced that his second studio album "Beauty Behind the Madness" would finally arrive on August 28.
His sophomore album became his biggest album to date, peaking at No. 1 on Billboard 200 and spawning two No.1 singles on the Hot 100. It also made the cut to several Best Album of 2015 lists.
Following the album's release, The Weeknd capped off 2015 by joining Future on the rapper's "Low Life" and dropping his remixed version of Jeremih's "Pass Dat". Several months later, he appeared on "FML" off Kanye West's long-awaited album "The Life of Pablo" and on "6 Inch" from Beyonce Knowles' "Lemonade".
The Weeknd began teasing his new album in September 2016, when he chopped off his signature hair and released the single "Starboy". Featuring Daft Punk, it serves as the title track of the singer's third studio effort, which is scheduled for release on November 25. He has also promoted his new LP with the live performances of "Starboy" and another song called "False Alarm" on "Saturday Night Live".
"Starboy" received positive reviews from music critics and even debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. The effort racked up 348,000 album units, marking the third-largest debut sales week of 2016 as well as the second-biggest week for album streams. It was later certified double platinum by the RIAA.
Releasing an album was not the only thing that The Weeknd did that year, as he also premiered a 12-minute short film titled "M A N I A" on November 23. Directed by Grant Singer, it featured excerpts from his third studio album, including snippets from "All I Know" featuring Future, "Sidewalks" featuring Kendrick Lamar, "Secrets" and "Die for You".
Thanks to the success of "Starboy", The Weeknd received numerous nominations in the following year. He was able to brought home several awards, including Best Urban Contemporary Album at Grammy Awards as well as Best Video for "Starboy" at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
2017 also saw the R&B musician being hit with several romance rumors. After breaking up with Selena Gomez, it was reported that The Weeknd reunited with his model ex-girlfriend Bella Hadid. He was also spotted getting cozy with Jennifer Aniston at Ellen DeGeneres' star-studded birthday bash. At the time, Jennifer had broken up with Justin Theroux. Both rumors were never confirmed, though.
The Weeknd decided to take a different approach for the release of his first EP, "My Dear Melancholy". Instead of premiering singles off the EP one by one, the Canadian singer surprised fans by releasing the whole effort on March 30, 2018.
Despite making its way out unnoticed, the six-track set debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. The Weeknd also released a music video for track "Call Out My Name" ahead of his performance at the Coachella Valley Music Arts Festival in Indio, California on April 13.