The Weeknd - Biography

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known professionally as the Weeknd, is a Canadian singer, songwriter and record producer. Born in Toronto and raised in Scarborough, Tesfaye began his recording career in 2009 by anonymously uploading his song 'Do It' to YouTube. Two years later, he met music executives Sal Slaiby and Amir Esmailian, with whom he founded XO Records.

He chose his stage name in tribute to when he, along with his best friend and future creative director La Mar Taylor, dropped out of high school at seventeen years old, took his mattress, and 'left one weekend and never came home'. However, his estranged producer Jeremy Rose claims the name was his idea. The letter 'E' was excluded to avoid trademark problems with Canadian band the Weekend.

Under XO Records, Tesfaye released his debut mixtapes: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. He quickly earned a following and critical recognition from several mainstream publications due to his dark style of Contemporary R&B and the mystique surrounding his identity. In 2012, he signed with Republic Records and re-released the mixtapes in the compilation album Trilogy.

His debut studio album, Kiss Land, was released in 2013. His sophomore album, Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), with the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles 'Can't Feel My Face' and 'The Hills', won Best Urban Contemporary Album and was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammy Awards. It was among the best-selling albums of 2015.

Tesfaye's third album Starboy (2016) was a similar commercial success and included the number-one single of the same name, and also won Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards. His fourth album, After Hours (2020), featured the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles 'Heartless', 'Save Your Tears', and 'Blinding Lights', the latter of which has become the first song in history to spend over a year in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, and was the most streamed song on Spotify in 2020.

Among the world's best selling musical artists with over 75 million records sold and on the list of most-streamed artists on Spotify, Tesfaye has won many accolades, including three Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards, nineteen Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, fifteen Juno Awards, five SOCAN awards and one Brit Award, and has been nominated for an Academy Award. He holds several chart records, being the first artist to simultaneously hold the top three positions on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart with 'Can't Feel My Face', 'Earned It', and 'The Hills'.

In February 2015, he was awarded the Allan Slaight Award by Canada's Walk of Fame. In 2017, he was featured on the cover of Forbes for his annual earnings of $92 million. Elton John listed him as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020 in Time. Tesfaye has a notable voice with a soaring falsetto and its singular tremolo. He has influenced artists in many contemporary music styles including pop, hip hop, and R&B.


Abel Makkonen Tesfaye was born on February 16, 1990, in Toronto, Ontario, to Ethiopian immigrants Makkonen and Samra Tesfaye and grew up in Scarborough, Toronto. He is an only child and was raised by his grandmother and mother after his parents separated. While living with his grandmother, he learned Amharic, which he also spoke with his mother. He attended services at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

He said of his father, 'I saw him vaguely when I was six, and then again when I was 11 or 12, and he had a new family and kids. I don't even know where he lived — I'd see him for, like, a night. I'm sure he's a great guy. I never judged him. He wasn't abusive, he wasn't an alcoholic, he wasn't an asshole. He just wasn't there.'Tesfaye has described his teenage years as being like the film 'Kids without the AIDS.'

He stated he began smoking marijuana at age eleven, and later used ecstasy, oxycodone, Xanax, cocaine, psilocybin, and ketamine. He said that he often shoplifted to supplement his drug use. He attended West Hill Collegiate Institute and Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute high schools in Scarborough. In 2007, he dropped out of school and moved to Parkdale, Toronto.

Tesfaye began dating model Bella Hadid in early 2015. The couple were first seen together in April at Coachella, and Hadid starred in his music video for 'In the Night' a few months later. They made their red carpet debut as a couple at the 2016 Grammy Awards. In November 2016, the couple broke up due to their conflicting schedules. Tesfaye started dating actress and singer Selena Gomez in January 2017.

They moved in together temporarily later on in September, but broke up a month later. Tesfaye and Hadid got back together in May 2018, and split once again in August 2019.On his early albums, to help get over his writer's block, Tesfaye often used drugs and abused illegal substances such as ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, magic mushrooms, and cough syrup.

In December 2013, he said that drugs were a 'crutch' for him when it came to writing music. On social media, he typically suffixed his first name with 'xo', which is often used as an emoticon for hugs and kisses. According to The Guardian's Hermione Hoby, this was Tesfaye's intention, though others believe it was a reference to his recreational use of ecstasy and oxycodone. He later altered the handles on his social media to reflect his stage name in preparation for the release of Starboy.

On August 2, 2021, during a cover story with GQ, Tesfaye described himself as being 'sober lite', meaning that he has stopped using hard drugs, with the exception of marijuana. He also noted that he drinks alcohol occasionally, stating: 'I'm not a heavy drinker, as much as I used to be. The romance of drinking isn't there.'Tesfaye's hairstyle, which has been described as his most recognizable trait, especially in 2015 during Tesfaye's Beauty Behind the Madness era, has been claimed to be partly inspired by Brooklyn graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

He began growing it out in 2011 and remarked at how easy it was to maintain with 'a hard shampoo every once in a while'. He cut his hair in 2016, prior to the release of Starboy.In 2017, Tesfaye purchased a new mansion in Hidden Hills, California for $18.5 million, which he sold to Madonna in 2021 for $19.3 million. In November 2019, he purchased an penthouse in Westwood, Los Angeles. Since 2018, he has rented a penthouse apartment in New York City. In his spare time, Tesfaye enjoys watching television and playing video games.

Despite having previously worked in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, in May 2016 Tesfaye and Belly cancelled an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! due to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump being present.Tesfaye was raised as an Ethiopian Orthodox. When asked about his religious beliefs in 2020, Tesfaye said 'I dunno...everything is a test, and if you are religious or spiritual, you have to go through things.'


Tesfaye posted the song 'Do It' on YouTube in August 2009 under the alias 'AbelOfficial.' Tesfaye met Jeremy Rose, a producer with an idea for a dark contemporary R&B musical endeavour, the next year. After originally pitching the concept to musician Curtis Santiago, Rose played one of his instrumentals for Tesfaye, who freestyle rapped over it, despite the fact that Tesfaye's early work did not include much rap. As a result, the two decided to work together on an album.

Rose wrote three songs – 'What You Need,' 'Loft Music,' and 'The Morning' – as well as others on which Tesfaye had sang but were eventually discarded. Rose agreed to allow Tesfaye retain the songs he had created on the condition that he be given credit for them. Tesfaye posted 'What You Need,' 'Loft Music,' and 'The Morning' on YouTube in December 2010 under the handle 'xoxxxoooxo.' His identity was unclear at first.

Before going by the stage moniker the Weeknd, he went by the names the Noise and Kin Kane. Tesfaye used to work at American Apparel when he initially started producing music. His coworkers listened to his music without realising it was his because of his obscurity. Tesfaye met music businessmen Sal Slaiby and Amir Esmailian in 2011, and together they established XO Records. House of Balloons, his first mixtape, was released on March 21, 2011 through XO Records.

The mixtape included production by Canadian producers Illangelo and Doc McKinney, as well as songs created by Rose despite the fact that he did not get production credit. Tesfaye started a tour in Toronto in July 2011, with his first live performance at the Mod Club Theatre. Drake was in the audience for the whole 90-minute performance. Drake mentioned working with Tesfaye throughout the performance. Tesfaye was the opening act for Drake's concerts at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, and she also played at the second annual OVO Fest in July 2011.

Tesfaye embarked on his first international tour in April 2012, which included appearances at Coachella, sold-out shows at New York City's Bowery Ballroom, which were praised by Rolling Stone, and a number of European festivals, including the 2012 Primavera Sound Festivals in Spain and Portugal, as well as the Wireless Festival in London in July 2012.

Tesfaye debuted the title single from his first studio album Kiss Land on May 16, 2013, and confirmed the album's release date as September 10. The album was subsequently promoted by Drake's songs 'Belong to the World' and 'Live For.' From September 6 through November 25, 2013, Tesfaye went on a fall tour. Kiss Land opened at number two on the Billboard 200 in the United States, selling 96,000 copies. In the United States, it sold over 273,000 copies. T

his was three weeks before he contributed to the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), providing 'Devil May Cry' and appearing on Sia's 'Elastic Heart,' the album's second lead single. Tesfaye remixed 'Drunk in Love,' a song from Beyoncé's eponymous studio album, in February 2014. Keeping the song's subject and idea in mind, he wrote the summary from the viewpoint of a man. He teamed with Ariana Grande on a duet named 'Love Me Harder' in October 2014, which reached at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100.

In December 2014, he released 'Earned It,' a Fifty Shades of Grey song (2015). The song, his second contribution to a film, reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100. He sang the song at the 88th Academy Awards in February 2016, when it was nominated for Best Original Song.

Tesfaye performed 'Earned It' alongside Alicia Keys and premiered the song 'The Hills' in June 2015, following receiving the Centric Award at the BET Awards 2015. Tesfaye's first number-one song, the track went on to top the Billboard chart. The song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in June 2019, becoming Tesfaye's first diamond-certified record.

Following its performance at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, 'Can't Feel My Face,' a previously Internet leaked track, was released as the album's third single on June 8, 2015. The song debuted at number twenty-four on the Billboard Hot 100 and quickly rose to number one, becoming his third top ten success and second number-one smash in the United States. He announced his first large-scale tour throughout the United States, The Madness Fall Tour, which started in November 2015 and ended in December 2015.

The album went double platinum in the United States and sold 1.5 million copies worldwide. Tesfaye became the first male artist to occupy the top three positions on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart with the three songs that preceded the release of his album on September 8, 2015. Following several musical collaborations with Belly, Meek Mill, and Travis Scott, Tesfaye was featured on Future's fourth studio album's triple platinum song 'Low Life.'

On November 23, he published M A N I A, a 12-minute short film. It featured snippets from the album, including 'All I Know' featuring Future, 'Sidewalks' featuring Kendrick Lamar, 'Secrets,' and 'Die for You.' It was directed by Grant Singer and featured excerpts from the album, including 'All I Know' featuring Future, 'Sidewalks' featuring Kendrick Lamar, 'Secrets,' and 'Die for You.'

In April 2017, he became Lana Del Rey's debut feature, performing on 'Lust for Life,' the title track and second single off her fifth studio album. He appeared on French Montana's third song from his second album Jungle Rules, 'A Lie,' as well as Cashmere Cat's first single 'Wild Love' off his album 9. He featured with XO signee Nav in the Virgil Abloh-directed music video for Lil Uzi Vert's 'XO Tour Llif3.' Later, he appeared on Lil Uzi Vert's Luv Is Rage 2 and Gucci Mane's 11th studio album Mr. Davis.

He was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in January 2018 for Starboy and went on to win the award.

After being teased and leaked throughout the preceding days, his first extended play My Dear Melancholy was published on March 30, 2018.

Tesfaye launched his new Beats 1 radio programme Memento Mori on June 6, 2018. Two days later, the first episode was released. The compilation album The Weeknd in Japan, which served as his debut greatest hits album, was published on November 21, 2018. Tesfaye released 'Power Is Power' with SZA and Travis Scott on April 18, 2019, as part of For the Throne: Music Inspired by the HBO Series Game of Thrones, inspired by the television programme Game of Thrones, of which Tesfaye is a fan.

On November 24, 2019, the first single from his fourth studio album After Hours, 'Blinding Lights,' was revealed through a Mercedes-Benz advertisement on German television. The second song, 'Blinding Lights,' debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 the same week 'Heartless' topped the chart, dropped to number 52 in its second week, and eventually hit number one on April 4, 2020.

Tesfaye announced the album's title, After Hours, and release date, March 20, 2020, on February 19, 2020, and concurrently released the title tune as a promotional single. Tesfaye performed 'Blinding Lights' and the previously unreleased 'Scared to Live' on Saturday Night Live on March 7, 2020.

The album, which included the songs 'Heartless,' 'Blinding Lights,' and 'In Your Eyes,' was released on March 20, 2020. The album opened at the top of the US Billboard 200, earning 444,000 album-equivalent units, 275,000 of which were pure sales. Tesfaye became the first artist to top the Billboard 200, Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Artist 100, Hot 100 Songwriters, and Hot 100 Producers charts all at the same time in the album's first charting week.

Tesfaye replied in January 2021, stating that his prior Grammy wins were no longer meaningful to him. Despite the Recording Academy's announcement that private nomination committees will be phased out, Tesfaye said that he would not allow his record company to submit his work to The Recording Academy in the future.

Tesfaye's second greatest hits album, The Highlights, was published on February 5, 2021. Tesfaye's highest charting compilation album and the largest first week debut for a greatest hits album since Blake Shelton's 2019 album, Fully Loaded: God's Country, opened at number two on the US Billboard 200. Tesfaye was the first Canadian solo artist to perform in the Super Bowl LV halftime show on February 7, 2021. He is said to have spent $7 million of his own money on his Super Bowl performance.

In an interview with Variety on May 4, he said, 'If the last record is the After Hours of the night, then ''the morning' is approaching.' On May 13, he hinted to 'the dawn' once again with the Instagram post ''The Dawn' is Coming...' Tesfaye performed 'Save Your Tears' at the Brit Awards on May 11. He also received his first Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist, which was given to him by Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States.

Doja Cat, a rapper and singer, released her song 'You Right,' a duet with Tesfaye, off her album Planet Her on June 25, 2021. Belly released his song 'Better Believe' featuring Tesfaye and Young Thug off his album See You Next Wednesday on July 19. It was released on July 22nd, along with its accompanying music video. Tesfaye teased his forthcoming project on social media channels on August 2, 2021, with the words 'take my breath' closing the teaser.

Later that day, he covered GQ's September 2021 issue, the magazine's first worldwide release. Tesfaye then revealed his new song 'Take My Breath,' which was released on August 6 in conjunction with NBC Sports and the 2020 Summer Olympics. Later that month, Tesfaye sang lead vocals on Kanye West's tenth studio album Donda's 'Hurricane.'

Weekend singing

Tesfaye's major musical influences are Michael Jackson, Prince, and R. Kelly. He has said that Michael Jackson's music inspired him to become a vocalist, citing the lyrics of 'Dirty Diana' as an example. He also said that Ethiopian singers such as Aster Aweke inspired his high-flying singing style. He grew up listening to a wide range of music genres such as soul, hip hop, funk, indie rock, and post-punk.

Tesfaye stated: 'I've always admired the time period before my birth. The '80s - Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cocteau Twins – play a big part in my sound, and you can hear it as far back as my first mixtape.' Slow tempos, rumbling bass, and mournful echoes characterise Tesfaye's compositions, which are 'crafted around a fogged, crepuscular production.' Tesfaye often sings in a falsetto range, displaying a seductive tone.

J. D. Considine compares his singing's 'tremulous quality' to Michael Jackson's, but he rejects Jackson's 'strong foundation in the blues' in favour of a more Arabic-influenced melisma. Tesfaye has a broad light-lyric tenor vocal range that spans three octaves. His vocal range reaches its lowest point at the bass F (F2) and its highest point at the tenor G (G5), with a natural tessitura in the upper fourth octave.

Tesfaye often employs his head voice to create resonance in order to scream out powerful high notes in the fifth octave. His music includes samples from genres other than R&B, such as punk and alternative rock. Tesfaye's samples, according to Spin's Marc Hogan, 'tend to pull from rock critic-approved sources, albeit usually ones that already share aspects of his sexual menace,' with bands such as Beach House, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Aaliyah.

Tesfaye mostly collaborated with producers Illangelo and Doc McKinney, whom Pitchfork's Ian Cohen credits with creating 'a state-of-the-art R&B template' with the artist. Tesfaye reappropriates his digital works in concert with a suite-like stadium rock style. His emotive, plaintive lyrics often convey pain and deal with subject matter like as sex, drugs, and partying, as shown by After Hours and House Of Balloons.

Tesfaye's songs are described as 'narcotised-slow jams' by Hermione Hoby of The Guardian, and their theme is that 'partying is an existential experience, sex is laden with estrangement, and everything registers as unreal and disturbing.' The Guardian's Paul MacInnes described Tesfaye's three mixtapes as 'a ragged arc of party, after-party, and hangover.'

Anupa Mistry of the Toronto Standard notices a 'cast of supine, stoned zombie-women... whose legs readily separate after being plied with drugs and who transform into threats only when [he is] coming down and feeling vulnerable' throughout his mixtapes. Tesfaye believes he is paying tribute to R. Kelly and Prince by singing filthy, stupid lyrics in an exquisite, seductive manner. Tesfaye's music has been characterised as Contemporary R&B, Alternative R&B, Pop, Electropop, and Synth-Pop.

Tesfaye has contributed to the expansion of R&B's musical palette by incorporating indie and electronic genres; his work has been labelled as alternative R&B. Mistry argues that he 'will be obsequiously hailed as the future of R&B music—not because he's producing measurable, canonical R&B,' but because he's a black vocalist. AllMusic's Andy Kellman classifies him as a 'alternative R&B artist.'

Tesfaye cited Lana Del Rey, David Bowie, the Smiths, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, DeBarge, 50 Cent, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Eminem as inspirations when promoting his third album Starboy. When Daft Punk announced their separation, Tesfaye said in an interview with Variety, 'Those guys are one of the reasons I create music, so I can't even compare them to other artists...'

Tesfaye artistry
Movies & Shows

Tesfaye is a movie buff who has made many film allusions in his music videos and teasers. He made his acting debut in the film Uncut Gems on August 30, 2019, at the Telluride Film Festival. On March 7, 2020, he appeared as a musical guest for the third time on Saturday Night Live, in the sketch 'On The Couch,' with actors Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd. He co-wrote and acted in an episode of American Dad! on May 4.

During the 200th episode of Robot Chicken in July, he voiced three characters. Tesfaye revealed on June 29, 2021, that he would co-write, executive produce, and appear in The Idol, a new HBO television drama series co-created with Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and Tesfaye's producing partner Reza Fahim.

Tesfaye at award show

Tesfaye partnered with condom manufacturer ONE to give out limited-edition condoms during his Kiss Land Fall Tour performances. The condoms featured artwork from his album Kiss Land on one side and 'Oxcy' - the album's mascot – on the other. Tesfaye partnered with Pax Labs in November 2015 to create a limited edition version of the PAX 2 vaporizer, an electronic cigarette that could be used in concerts during The Madness Fall Tour, to help promote Beauty Behind the Madness.

The face of the e-cigarette included the 'xo' logo, as well as the option to play 'The Hills' when switched on. The regular PAX 2 retailed for $279.99, while the limited edition e-cigarette priced $324.99. PAX also served as the tour's official sponsor, providing unique backstage VIP activations for fans who purchased packages that contained the e-cigarette.

Richard Mumby, chief marketing officer of PAX Labs, said 'Pax has always found music and fashion to be a natural match... This was an ideal chance to combine The Weeknd's aesthetic with our technology.' Tesfaye announced a collaboration with sportswear brand Puma in 2016 as a worldwide brand ambassador for the company's 'Run the Streets' campaign. It was released in early November, with the final collection released in conjunction with the release of his album Starboy.

He also organised a number of pop-up retail shops for the 'Starboy: Limited Capsule' collection, which were accessible in cities throughout North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Tesfaye also launched three capsule collections called PUMA X XO, which included T-shirts, hats, sweatpants, bomber jackets, and a pair of sneakers dubbed the Parallels.

Tesfaye has recently started producing his own XO branded goods, which has been complemented by a partnership with H&M to present their Spring 2017 campaign. The ad, which included new collaboration items created with the singer's brand, debuted on March 2, 2017. Tesfaye worked with H&M again for a fall collection, but following a 'very insulting' incident in 2018, he severed relations with the business.

Tesfaye had a limited edition pop up sale for the 'Starboy 2017 Limited Capsule Collection' in May 2017. The collections were offered in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami Beach, Houston, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, among other places. Tesfaye has worked with a variety of artists and designers, including Kidult, Alexander Wang, and Futura.

Tesfaye announced at the New York Comic-Con in October 2017, after hinting on Instagram, that a Starboy comic book in collaboration with Marvel Comics will be published on June 13, 2018, with the main character being a superhero modelled after himself. Tesfaye's business, XO, collaborated with A Bathing Ape to produce a line of clothing in August 2018 and again in January 2020.

Tesfaye purchased a stake in the esports business OverActive Media Group, which owns Splyce and the Overwatch League club Toronto Defiant, in April 2019 and will act as the brand's worldwide ambassador. Tesfaye teamed with TD Bank on August 31, 2020, to launch Black HXOUSE (commonly referred to simply as HXOUSE), an entrepreneurial programme. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a $221 million joint venture with HXOUSE for Black Canadian businesses on September 9, 2020.

Tesfaye revealed in late March 2021 that a collection of visual artwork and an unreleased song named 'Acephalous' will be auctioned off in the form of a non-fungible token, commonly known as an NFT. The auction went live on the Nifty Gateway marketplace on April 3 at 11:00 a.m. PST. The compilation sold for more than $2,000,000, with one tune fetching $490,000. The collection included eight pieces: three audio-visual things available in open editions, four static artworks available in two silent auctions and two drawings, and a major solo film named 'The Source.'

Tesfaye posting a picture

Tesfaye contributed US$50,000 to the University of Toronto after receiving the Bikila Award for Professional Excellence in 2014 to finance a new course on Ge'ez, Ethiopia's classic language. He endowed a new Ethiopian Studies programme at the University of Toronto in August 2016. Tesfaye contributed $50,000 to the St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Toronto, Canada, which he attended as a child, during Orthodox Easter in May 2016.

In December 2015, he visited Atlanta's Children's Hospital with Ryan Seacrest's charity. Tesfaye contributed $100,000 to the Suubi Health Center, a maternity and children's medical facility in Budondo, Uganda, in June 2017. Tesfaye was motivated to donate to the facility after learning about French Montana's collaboration with Global Citizen and Mama Hope to raise awareness for Suubi and the people of Uganda.

Tesfaye reintroduced XO's non-medical cloth face masks in April 2020, with all profits to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GRAMMY-launched effort to assist artists impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. Tesfaye contributed US$500,000 to MusiCares and $500,000 to his hometown Scarborough Health Network front-line hospital employees in Ontario, Canada, for a total of $1,000,000 to COVID-19 assistance. In the context of media sources exposing instances of police violence, he tweeted 'blue lives murder' in July 2016.

Tesfaye contributed $250,000 to Black Lives Matter in August 2016. Tesfaye contributed US$500,000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp, and the National Bail Out in May 2020, in reaction to the death of George Floyd and the subsequent demonstrations. He then encouraged other music executives, big record companies, and streaming providers to join him in supporting the cause.

Tesfaye hosted 'the Weeknd Experience,' an interactive virtual concert on the social media platform TikTok on August 7, 2020, attracting 2 million total views, including 275,000 concurrent viewers, and raising over $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative. In addition, he contributed $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon in support of the victims of the Beirut bombing. The University of Toronto announced on November 2, 2020, that it had met and exceeded its fundraising target of $500,000 for its Ethiopic programme, which included a $30,000 gift from Tesfaye.

Tesfaye stated on April 4, 2021, that he will contribute $1 million to Ethiopian relief efforts for those impacted by the Tigray War via the World Food Programme. On June 9, he discussed the situation with Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. During the discussion, he was informed on the most recent events and discussed methods to increase public pressure so that direct action may be taken to assist civilians. Tesfaye was among the celebrities that expressed their support for people killed during the 2021 Israel–Palestine conflict in May 2021.

Tesfaye at WFP
Controversies and allegations

Tesfaye was arrested in January 2015 for allegedly striking a Las Vegas Police Department officer after being brought into an elevator to break up a brawl. He entered a not guilty plea and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service. Tesfaye was chastised for the lyrics of 'Lost in the Fire' in January 2019. Tesfaye alludes to a woman's same-sex desire as 'a phase' in the song before declaring that he would 'fuck her straight,' which some critics have accused as being homophobic.

Cutting Edge Music sued Tesfaye in December 2015, alleging that the bassline for 'The Hills' was lifted from a piece used in the soundtrack for the 2013 science fiction thriller The Machine. One of the song's producers allegedly sent a private Twitter message to Tom Raybould, the composer of the film's soundtrack, informing him of the sample. Tesfaye and Daft Punk were sued in September 2018 for allegedly copying the rhythm for 'Starboy' from Yasminah, an Ethiopian poet, singer, and composer. Tesfaye vehemently rejected the accusations.

Tesfaye was sued in April 2019 by British group William Smith, Brian Clover, and Scott McCulloch, who accused him of copyright infringement for plagiarising their song 'I Need to Love' to produce his song 'A Lonely Night.' Tesfaye and Belly were asked for $150,000 in damages. The case was rejected in August 2019 through summary judgement with the opportunity to amend, with the court finding that they had failed to demonstrate that Tesfaye or anyone else engaged in the creation of 'A Lonely Night' had access to their music or that the works were substantially similar.

The plaintiffs submitted an updated claim based on secondary infringement in September 2019, which is currently being litigated. The now-defunct indie band Yeasayer sued Tesfaye and Kendrick Lamar in 2020, alleging that 'Pray for Me' contains an illegal sample of their song 'Sunrise.' Later that year, Yeasayer agreed to drop their case.

Weekend with a new poster album
Awards and nominations

Tesfaye has received three Grammy Awards, nineteen Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, fifteen Juno Awards, and one Academy Award nomination. He received the Allan Slaight Award from Canada's Walk of Fame in February 2015 for 'having a significant influence in the areas of music, cinema, literature, visual or performing arts, athletics, innovation, or charity.'

Tesfaye with awards