With an impressive number of US number one hits and an array of famous girlfriends, The Weeknd is one of the biggest stars of the moment. Lesser known, however, are the hits that kickstarted The Weeknd’s career.
There were actually 3 singles that were first released by The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, back in 2010. The tracks, entitled ‘What You Need’, ‘Loft Music’ and ‘The Morning’, were created in collaboration with music producer Jeremy Rose.
These 3 songs went on to gain recognition from some huge names in the music industry, which became the catalyst to The Weeknd’s stardom.
‘What You Need’, ‘Loft Music’ and ‘The Morning’
In an interview with Vice Magazine, Jeremy Rose explains that he met The Weeknd by chance through mutual friends.
“I was playing the beat for “What You Need.” I had that thing for a couple years and I didn’t know what to do with it. Anyway, Abel was there and he started free-styling on top of it.”
“I had an idea for a dark R&B project,” he says, and he felt that The Weeknd was well suited to be involved.
Rose asked The Weeknd to collaborate on a project, and the two created the three songs. The lyrics for ‘What You Need’ detail a romantic dilemma, where the lyricist competes for the object of his affections.
‘Loft Music’ appears to reference drug use, with lines including “We know just how to get a buzz” and “The only girls that we f*ck with seem to have 20 different pills in em’.”
The third track, ‘The Morning’, gives an indication of the star’s ambitious plans. “Order plane tickets”, he sings, “Cali is the mission…Let the world listen.”
The Weeknd released the songs onto his YouTube channel, and they were reshared on Drake’s blog.
This marked the beginning of a musical partnership. Just one year later, the two collaborated on Take Care.
In 2011, The Weeknd released his first mixtape, ‘House of Balloons’, which features all three tracks.
By 2012, the artist was making serious waves in the music industry. At a London gig, he played a sampling of his songs from ‘House of Balloons’, and spoke to NME of his ambitions to play stadium concerts.
The Weeknd’s Next Steps
For The Weeknd, the success only continued to grow. Following an appearance at Coachella, he embarked on his first tour, which included both US and UK gigs.
In 2019, the singer scored his first Diamond Certified single with ‘The Hills’, an honor awarded to artists whose songs have sold 10 million units. This is calculated using both streams and sales.
In March 2020, he released his latest album ‘After Hours’, which went on to achieve a further two number one singles with catchy tunes ‘Heartless’ and ‘Blinding Lights’.
He has also dabbled in the world of movies, providing the music behind some of the biggest blockbusters in recent years.
Speaking to Variety Magazine in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, The Weeknd was positive about his craft, saying that his album could act as a momentary distraction. “If I could do something even as small as taking people away from what’s happening in the world for an hour, then what better time?”
With a host of number 1 singles, successful movie soundtracks and arena tours behind him, it seems that there’s no stopping The Weeknd’s meteoric career rise.