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"When people meet me, they say that I'm really kind — contrary to a lot of my music."When talking about his art and his career, Tesfaye is blessed with a towering self-confidence and has no hesitation about declaring his own greatness.
"People tell me I'm changing the culture," he says. I think I'm gonna drop one more album, one more powerful body of work, then take a little break — go to Tokyo or Ethiopia or some shit." Hearing him boast about talking shop with Bono, or name-dropping "Naomi Campbell, who's a good friend of mine now," you may be tempted to see a diva in the making; or you may see a 25-year-old guy who's stoked and incredulous to be in the position he's in.
"Sorry, I'm sick," he says, as his handshake becomes a fist bump in midair. ")This scene would not have seemed possible in 2011, when the Weeknd appeared with a trio of cult-favorite mixtapes that established both his sonic template — drug-drenched, indie-rock-sampling, sex-dungeon R&B — and his mysterious, brooding persona.
Since starting this promo tour a week ago, he's been to Las Vegas, Paris, Berlin and now London. A press-shy Ethiopian kid from Toronto who has given only a handful of interviews, he has cultivated a near-mythical image as a bed-hopping, pill-popping, chart-topping cipher.
"I just started being fancy, to be honest," he says. I didn't like the way I looked in pictures — when I saw myself on a digital camera, I was like, ''" Instead of his face, his album art and videos featured black-and-white photos of artful nudes — a topless girl in a bathtub, a woman's ass in a party dress.
"Like, I just started learning how to pronounce what I'm wearing." He imitates a snooty shopgirl: "' It's not Bal-When he first started recording as the Weeknd, Tesfaye was an unlikely star. The aesthetic was American Apparel-style hipster catnip, right down to the Helvetica font.
A lot of artists started doing things faster and quicker after that: Justin Timberlake dropped two albums in a year, Beyoncé dropped a surprise album." He's equally proud of the music itself: "I'm not gonna say any names, but just listen to the radio.
I was looking at artists like Iggy Pop and the Ramones, or Afropunk. And then it's like, ' And now, a few words about the hair: The Weeknd's hair is by far his most recognizable trait."; Sal is a courtly charmer who grew up in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war and now dates a former Miss USA.Right now, they're trying to figure out how to get from Norway, where Tesfaye will be for promo in a few days, to Texas, where he has a show. The tour manager says he'll check, but they're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.I was like, ' Dude, take anything.'" Today, he says he has nothing but gratitude for Drake, whom he calls "my closest friend in the industry at that time." Still, he says, "I gave up almost half of my album. I will always be thankful — if it wasn't for the light he shined on me, who knows where I'd be.And everything happens for a reason." That said: "You never know what I would say if this success wasn't in front of me now."It wasn't long before the major labels came calling.