Abel Tesfaye (born February 16, 1990), better known by his stage nameThe Weeknd, is a Canadian R&B recording artist and record producer of Ethiopian descent from Toronto, Ontario. He began recording songs under the stage name The Weeknd and uploading them to YouTube in late 2010, though his identity was initially unknown. In March 2011, The Weeknd released a nine-song free album, House of Balloons, which was critically acclaimed. The title track is based on a sample of Siouxsie and the Banshees' hit single "Happy House." The first album is a part of a trilogy which includes Thursday released in August of the same year andEchoes of Silence issued in December. In June, House of Balloons was named as one of ten shortlisted nominees of 2011 Polaris Music Prize but eventually lost to Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. On December 21, 2011 at 11:07 p.m. EST Tesfaye released his highly anticipated third mixtapeEchoes of Silence. On June 14, the tape was announced as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, becoming the second mixtape from the trilogy to receive recognition for the award.
The Weeknd has received praise from several music publications, including those of Pitchfork, MTV, BET, Rolling Stone, XXL and The Source, who have dubbed him the "Songbird of his Generation" and the "best musical talent since Michael Jackson" (John Norris, MTV).