A post dedicated to Abel Tesfaye has been highly requested since everyone wants to get to know him a bit more, so here it is.
This post is written by a reader who’s Instagram user is: @girlbornin94xo. This amazing reader has wrote an excellent post for you guys and included many pictures, many details, and overall a great outlook on Abel’s life. She also included links and cited where she got her information via an in text citation (more professional than we’ll ever be).
If you are interested in writing a post for the ExposingSMG team, here are the rules and how to submit ->
Without further ado, let’s get to know more about Abel.
All about Abel
Hi, ExposingSMG readers! :)
My name is - Well, I’d rather not give my name. ;) Buuuut… I’m a longtime fan (4 years) of The Weeknd and I noticed that a lot of people on ExposingSMG wanted to learn more about him. I thought that it would be a cool opportunity to write a post about Abel for anyone that was interested in knowing more about him. :) Being a dedicated fan for four years and also running a successful up-and-coming fan-page on Instagram has given me a breadth of knowledge about his music, his personality, his likes and dislikes, and more; however, this post is certainly not comprehensive. I want to preface this post by stating that I am not affiliated with him in anyway and I do not personally know him (although I certainly wish that I did!)
As many of you are aware, The Weeknd’s “government name” is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye. He is 27 years old and was born on February 16th, 1990. Ayeee, fellow air sign (I’m a Libra) …
His stage name, “The Weeknd”, was inspired by his decision to drop out of high school at 17 and leave his mother’s home one weekend, never to return. The lack of a third “e” was to avoid trademark issues with a Canadian band named “The Weekend.” Although some people speculate this happened:
The world may never know.
Abel is from the tundra that is known as Canada (I’m from Michigan so I can say this), specifically, Toronto, Ontario. He is a true Torontonian, having spent the first 21 years of his life in the city. “From when I was born to when I was 21, I never left Toronto. That’s why I’m such a city cat.” (Link M. ) Abel’s debut mixtape “House of Balloons” is based off his real experiences in this home (this will prove significant later):
Abel is a shining example of “rags to riches”, or, as he puts it, “homeless to Forbes list.” You may remember this magazine cover. ;)
He current resides in the “Hidden Hills” of Los Angeles, in this stunning home:
Talk about a glo-up! He definitely “Earned It”! ;)
Abel has a “hard-knocks” past. He grew up without his father (unfortunately, his dad left when he was a baby) and he was raised by his grandma and his mom. His mom worked 24/7 between several jobs to keep the family afloat, plus went to night school, so Abel was primarily raised by his grandma until he was 5 years old. (Link M. R.) Abel is an only child and he is very close with his mom, citing her as one of his inspirations. He is a self-proclaimed momma’s boy and even bought her “a crib and a brand new wagon” last year. :)
Abel is of Ethiopian descent and his ancestry is very important to him. His first language was Amharic because his grandma did not speak English. Although we may not recognize it, he states that Ethiopian music shaped him artistically. “The feeling in my music and in my voice is very Ethiopian and very African and much more powerful than anything, technically. There are songs like “Gone” where I don’t even know what I’m saying—I let my voice do all the talking.” (Link E. H.) In his mega-hit song “The Hills”, he is actually singing in Amharic at the end. He hopes to make a heavily Ethiopian-inspired album in the future. Abel is so committed to his heritage that he even donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to help establish an Ethiopian Studies program. (Pitchfork) Personally, I love to see people that are proud of their heritage. Good for you, Abel! :)
As mentioned above, Abel grew up in Toronto and lived in the city for the first 21 years of his life. His first album, Trilogy, captured his experiences within the city, or as he describes it: “within those four walls.” This is significant because Abel’s music is largely autobiographical. (Link R. S.) He writes the majority of his songs and is a writer at heart. He used to write screenplays as a teen and initially wanted to go into the film industry. (Link R. )
An integral part of Abel’s personality is being original. Nearly everything that he does is unique in one way or another. Even his rise to fame was unconventional. Abel initially gained recognition from his debut mixtape, House of Balloons in March of 2011.
He later dropped two additional mixtapes in the same year, Thursday and Echoes of Silence. These mixtapes were combined to become his first album, Trilogy, in November of 2012. A little known fact is that numerous songs on Drake’s award-winning album “Take Care” were actually Abel’s songs. Abel gave up “almost half” of his album to Drake. (Link D. )
There is a LOT of history between Abel and Drake. You may remember their collaboration on “Crew Love” way back when (2011) – They lovin’ the creeeeew. That is another post, entirely. However, they are reportedly good friends. Abel even brought Drake out as a surprise guest at his Toronto concert in May.
Unlike many artists, Abel focused primarily on his music and let the music speak for itself. For the first few years of his career, he rarely did interviews, barely took pictures, and just avoided press, overall. His reason for initially practicing extreme anonymity largely stemmed from insecurity: “I was everything an R&B singer wasn’t,“ he said. "I wasn’t in shape. I wasn’t a pretty boy. I was awkward as fuck. I didn’t like the way I looked in pictures — when I saw myself on a digital camera, I was like, ‘Eesh.’” (Link R. S.)
Further, he felt like he wasn’t articulate enough in interviews: “Me not finishing school — in my head, I still have this insecurity when I’m talking to someone educated,” (Link R. S.) These quotes help to showcase Abel’s true personality. He has a bad rep as a sex-crazed druggie who will inevitably hurt you. These are huge misconceptions about him and they will be discussed later in my post.
Abel loves mystery and reveals very little about himself to the public; he is refreshingly private. He is probably the only male celebrity in existence to not even have a shirtless picture for his fans -oops, I mean the public- to see (trust me, this is very frustrating for us). Sigh… To illustrate my point, this is what Abel wears to the beach:
XO loves you, “Babel”, but for real though…don’t you get hot? You’re perfect just the way you are, don’t be shy. We won’t bite. Well … some of us won’t. (:
To further add to his mystery, even the meaning behind his personal label, XO, is speculated. XO traditionally means “hugs and kisses,” however, it has been heavily theorized that Abel is referring to XO as Ecstasy (X) and OxyContin (O). Abel has never publicly stated what XO stands for. Regardless, XO has become Abel’s trademark, a record label (XO operates with Republic Records), and the name for his fanbase.
Abel is extremely dedicated to his music and to his career, in general. He pursues things with a relentless determination. He typically goes on tour every fall and has an affinity for the fall, in general.
He is very disciplined and rehearses every day. (Link M. t.) He also reinvents himself before every “chapter” (a new album). His greatest reinvention was when he cut off his signature hair in 2016, before the release of his current album, Starboy.
Abel is a complex individual and it shows in his music (which makes sense, since, like I mentioned, his music is largely autobiographical.) A big misconception about Abel’s music is that it is only about sex and drugs. Although drugs and sex are both a prevalent theme across his albums, there is also a lot of meaning behind his songs. One only has to listen to his album Kissland to know exactly what I mean. If there are fellow XOs reading this, you are nodding your heads in agreement. I see you, fellow OGs.
Kissland is arguably Abel’s most emotional album. Abel put his heart, soul, and essentially everything he had into that album, but unfortunately, it was largely underrated. Kissland is significant to this post because this album helps to describe Abel’s personality: Under the sexual prowess and bravado is a humble man who is incredibly perceptive, intelligent, and real. The depth and complexity of some of his songs will clearly reveal the man behind the (angelic) voice. He sees all, knows all, and feels all. He does not take anything lightly and everything is calculated. He even says it himself:
This brings me to my next trait: Abel is, sadly, what one would consider a “tortured soul.” This is an evident theme in his music. Deep down, he struggles with feeling inadequate as well as between the “light” and the “dark” sides of life. As he puts it: “Devil on my lap and a cross on my neck.”
If you listen, you can clearly hear the pain in his voice in many of his songs. He has an incredible ability to make you “feel” his emotions through his music if you are open to it. Some noteworthy lyrics:
“She’s pure, so pure, like the love that’s so uncut and raw. And clean, so clean, as opposed to what I offered.” – Adaptation
“I can see your wings, but I know what I am and the life I live. And even though I sin, maybe we are born to live.” – Angel
“Heaven only lets a few in, it’s too late for me to choose it. Don’t waste precious tears on me, I’m not worth the misery. I’m better off when I’m alone.” – Real Life
“Angels are singin’ in monasteries. My soul is buried in LaFerraris. Father, sorry, father, sorry, halos are given to ordinary lives. But this ain’t ordinary life.” – Ordinary Life
Honestly, just typing those lyrics stirs up emotions for me, let alone when I listen to the songs. I think you’re starting to see that Abel is much, much more than his initial image.
Additionally, this may come as a shock given his playboy reputation, but Abel DOES want to find real love and is “capabel” (see what I did there?) of being committed. But he believes that real love is unattainable in the sense that he is not worthy of it and that he will not find a girl who will accept him for who he is. Dare I say it? His view on love is almost romantic because if/when he is in love, he gives his all. Giving your all is risky and it would make you hesitant to pursue a relationship, which is why he tends to hold back. Once again, his lyrics speak for themselves:
“So if I love you, it’d be just for you, so when I’m touchin’ you, can I trust in you?” – True Colors
“Don’t stop your lovin’, it’s all I have, cause I can’t function, no, I won’t last.” – Nothing Without You
I could literally make an entire post on his lyrics alone, but since this post is already long enough, I will end this section here, ha.
Further idiosyncrasies of Abel’s personality:
He is funny and has a sarcastic sense of humor.
He is adorably animated and expressive. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
We endearingly call him “a walking meme” because of his facial expressions; there are even numerous “The Weeknd” meme pages dedicated to him on Instagram, lol!
He is kind, humble, and extremely loyal. He has had the same group of friends (the “XO crew”) since the beginning.
He is unpredictable (this goes with his mystery) … he often disappears for days or even weeks at a time, much to the annoyance/despair of his fans. Sigh…
Speaking of fans, an integral part of Abel’s personality is his adoration for his fans. He goes a step further than most celebrities who love their fans by following numerous fan accounts on Instagram and actively liking fan art, edits, pictures, and videos:
And that’s not even all of the fan accounts that he follows, nor is that a fraction of the stuff that he has “liked” from his fans.
Abel’s admiration for his fans is always clearly written on his face with his bright smile and shining eyes. In the first picture below, he is calling fans and giving them free tickets to one of his concerts.
…And those tweets only go back for the past two years. There are many, many more. These reasons and more are why his fanbase is so strong and incredibly loyal to him. He treats us well. He knows us well. He adores us as we adore him.
The Bad: Abel’s Rollercoaster Relationship with Drugs
Now, I couldn’t do a post about Abel without discussing his drug use, however, I’m not going to spend too much time on it because it is already well-known that Abel used/uses drugs. Unfortunately, if there is anything that Abel is known for besides his prior hair, it’s drugs. Quick note on “the hair” … it was inspired by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and he grew it out for four years. Four. Years. I have to admit, I was thrilled when he cut it off. I’M SORRY, ABEL! But I could barely see your lovely face under all of that hair.
I got sidetracked, sorry. That tends to happen to me, especially when it’s about him. Oops.
Alas, Abel was heavily involved with various drugs for many years. He described 2008-2010 as his “hazy years” due to the amount of drugs that he was under the influence from. Unlike many celebrities, though, he has been incredibly forthcoming and open about his prior use. In a December, 2016 interview with The Guardian, he mentions that “drugs were a crutch” for him and that he “can’t see” himself “doing that now.” He insists that everything is in moderation at this point and that he ‘only’ “dibbles and dabbles”. (Link T. G.) I hope for his health’s sake that this is the case (honestly, it would be better if he could quit altogether, but it’s not easy in the Hollywood scene). There were times that he worried us, especially with this lyric: “I took too much and I’ve gone too far, and I might not make it this time.” Don’t do that to XO, Abel…:(
Again, I couldn’t do a post about Abel without at least mentioning sex. He has quite the reputation. I mean, a simple google search of “The Weeknd” turns up these results:
Abel isn’t exactly shy about explicitly describing what he can and will do to you. After all, “baby, if you let me, I won’t hesitate.” I could quote many, many of his lyrics here … but, I want to keep this post PG-13 because I don’t know who might end up reading this.
With that in mind, I know that I need to provide some details about the “king of sex pop”. ;) Let’s just say that Abel makes it very clear about his skills. He particularly likes to mention the power he has to give you anything you want and that no one can do it for you like he can. That, and his tongue. You see … when most people stick out their tongue, it’s to be playful … But Abel does it to be a tease and to make a play on something else. He even has videos of his tongue. I’ll just leave it at that, lol!
Oh… and the big question… I will answer that with one word that his fans use to describe “it”: “Abelconda”. No, he doesn’t have any type of graphic “proof” out there, so don’t search for it (tens of thousands of XO girls, if not more, have already tried and failed). Remember, we are talking about a guy who doesn’t even have a shirtless picture out there. But … there is other stuff in the deep realms of the Internet that provides stake to that claim. Aaaand… I end it there.
His sexual delivery is unique in that he sings the dirtiest lyrics in the most elegant way. His soft but powerful voice has a way of drawing you in. Despite all of this sexual confidence, he’s not the type of guy to come up to you and start whispering dirty nothings in your ear. “Listen, I’m not walkin’ around like fuckin’ Idris Elba, know what I mean? It’s like… You’ll probably describe me in this fuckin’ thing. I’m not—look at me, this is who I am. I’m not gonna walk into the club and be like, ‘Oh shit, I’m the sexiest guy in here.’ The reason why they want to fuck with me is because of what I do [in the studio]. So I’d rather just focus on doing that.” - (Link G. )
Whatta man, whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good maaan …
I wanted to do a quick section on Abel’s awards because quite honestly, he is still largely underrated and he deserves more recognition. There are still a lot of people who don’t know who he is. Currently, he holds 77 awards.
His most notable moments are listed below but this list is not comprehensive.
Guinness World Records, 2017: Most Streamed Album on Spotify in One Year (Beauty Behind the Madness) and Most Consecutive Weeks in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 by a Solo Male Artist
Billboard Music Awards, 2016: Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Songs Sales Artist, Top Radio Songs Artist, Top Streaming Songs Artist, Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Album (Beauty Behind the Madness), Top Streaming Song (The Hills), Top R&B Song (Earned It)
Juno Awards, 2016: Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Album of the Year (Beauty Behind the Madness), R&B Soul Recording of the Year, Single of the Year (Can’t Feel My Face)
Grammy Awards, 2016: Best Urban Contemporary Album (Beauty Behind the Madness) and Best R&B Performance (Earned It)
American Music Awards, 2015: Favorite Soul/R&B Album (Beauty Behind the Madness) and Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist
This moment was significant for Abel not only for winning an award, but also for having the award presented by Prince, one of his greatest musical influences (his other influences include Michael Jackson and R. Kelly).
Random Things about Abel
Game of Thrones
Movies, specifically, horror movies. He likes horror-esque type of stuff, in general.
This was from his music video, False Alarm.
He dislikes: drama, dishonesty/disloyalty, fake people, criticism about what he wears (especially his shoes, he unfollowed someone on Twitter for saying that his new shoe line was “ugly” and “overpriced”), and being denied freedom. He’s “just a bird”, after all.
As comprehensive as this post may seem, I honestly could write so much more. There are many topics that I didn’t touch on or that I could’ve elaborated much further on. However, I feel like this post gives at least a decent idea of who Abel is as a person rather than what Abel’s image portrays. I hope that you guys enjoyed reading this biography (lmao) and that you walk away from this with a different perspective of Abel.
Mastermind from Michgian, M.S.A
(…Sike, you thought. I’m far from a mastermind. But I do appreciate intellect and I love to learn. :))
This marks the end of this post. When this lovely reader first submitted this to me, I was like “uhhh all about Abel..? I clearly said no “inside” posts from a source that’s not part of the ESMG team” and I was like…
but then I actually READ the post! This post has taught ME, a lot about Abel and now the information that I’ve heard from many sources, makes even more sense with this new information that I have learned from this post. The writer did an absolutely amazing job in showing who Abel is with proof and the significance of his music. And based on what I previously know about Abel, this post is correct from an inside perspective as well.
This was such an amazing read and I hope you guys have enjoyed it as well. We sure do have some TALENTED people in the exposing fam.
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