How Did The Weeknd Get Famous

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, popularly known as The Weeknd started his music career from humble beginnings. From being camera-shy to being one of the most celebrated artists in the music industry, his journey is surely inspiring. So, here’s the timeline of The Weeknd’s remarkable journey to fame, all set to inspire you:

  • Anonymous YouTube debut 

In February 2011, The Weeknd anonymously released his “What You Need” music video on YouTube. Through YouTube and Tumblr, he released other tracks that combined R&B and pop, immediately gaining interest from music enthusiasts and critics. His mysterious identity sparked curiosity, instantly drawing attention to his music. 

When asked in an interview why he had kept his identity hidden in the beginning, he revealed that he was “very insecure” and camera shy but in the end, he decided to let his music speak for himself showcasing his skills and proving his worth. 

  • Breakthrough mixtape

After bursting onto the scene, The Weeknd wasted no time in leaving a lasting mark with his fresh voice and “enigmatic” personality. Building upon the buzz that surrounded him, he self-released his mixtape “House of Balloons” in March 2011. House of Balloons was a unique blend of contemporary and alternative R&B, soul, indie rock, trip-hop, and more. His work also caught the eye of popular artist Drake, who shed light on his work and would later collaborate with him.

During that same eventful year, The Weeknd showed no signs of slowing down. After dropping “House of Balloons” he treated fans to not just one, but two more mixtapes: “Thursday” and “Echoes of Silence.” Together, these releases would later be celebrated as the “Trilogy” series.

  • First Appearance

Amid the buzz of his YouTube debut, The Weeknd gave his first live performance in July 2011, at a small venue called “Mod Club,” in his hometown Toronto. While he still wanted to keep his privacy intact, there were several leaked photos and videos of his performance flooding the internet. 

It was during this time that he met popular Canadian singer, Drake, who attended The Weeknd’s first live performance. This encounter sparked a collaboration that brought The Weeknd into the industry’s spotlight. In fact, The Weeknd is also credited for co-writing 5 tracks from Drake’s second album “Take Care”.

  • First Performance at Coachella

Within just a year of his YouTube debut, The Weeknd gave his first-ever Coachella performance in April 2012. This was a significant moment in his career as it also led to his First US tour

This performance not only solidified his rising star status but also set the stage for his future appearances at Coachella and other major music festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and the famous Super Bowl championship (2021).

  • Signs with a Major record label and drops Trilogy

In 2012, The Weeknd signed a deal with his first major record label, Republic Records. This deal allowed him to release his compilation album titled “Trilogy.” 

“Trilogy” includes remastered versions of his previously released mixtapes: “House of Balloons,” “Thursday,” and “Echoes of Silence.” The album also features three additional tracks. The album played a crucial role in his journey toward becoming a mainstream success and also expanding his growing fan base.

  • Mainstream Recognition

In June 2013, he released his debut studio album, “Kiss Land,” which entered the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. The turning point came with his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” featuring chart-topping hit singles like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills.” 

These hits showcased The Weeknd’s ability to craft radio-friendly tracks that resonated with a broad audience while staying true to his unique style. “Beauty Behind the Madness” won Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2016 Grammys.

  • Earned it

The Weeknd’s song “Earned It” was released in 2014 as part of the soundtrack for the film “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “Earned It” became a global success, receiving widespread recognition for its smooth blend of R&B, pop, and electronic elements that matched the film’s theme.

“Earned It” earned him his first Grammy for “Best R&B Performance” in 2016. Not only this but “Earned It” was also nominated for “Best Original Song” at the 2016 Oscars. While it didn’t win the award, its nomination was a significant milestone, making it his first Oscar nomination.

The Weeknd’s stardom does not end here. His winning streak continued with several hits like “Starboy”, his record-breaking “Blinding Lights,” and also landing a major collaboration with Queen Bey Beyoncé on “Lemonade”.

From anonymous YouTube uploads to winning Grammys and Oscar nominations, The Weeknd had changed the tide of his career. His journey stands as a testament to aspiring artists, reminding us that with passion, perseverance, and a sprinkle of luck, you too can shape your dreams into reality!

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