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R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
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R&B - Released January 1, 2012 | CP Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Abel Tesfaye, aka the Weeknd, released three free mixtapes, aka albums, in 2011. Trilogy compiles them with remastered sound and adds three new songs. Supported by fellow Toronto native Drake, Tesfaye surfaced that March with House of Balloons, an impressive debut that merged his paradoxical approach -- sweet voice, poisonous words -- with gloomy but entrancing productions, most of which were provided by Illangelo and Doc McKinney. The duo produced the entirety of Thursday, released that August. It offered minor variations on the debut's themes of getting laid and high through plodding, thudding scenes of bleak malevolence. Anyone not magnetized to extended periods of intense wallowing and/or chemically-induced lethargy -- or the idea of experiencing either one of the two states -- could discern that Tesfaye could have used an editor. And then, in December, just after Drake released Take Care, an album featuring a handful of Tesfaye collaborations, Echoes of Silence completed the Weeknd trilogy in an equally excessive fashion. Emboldened by critical acclaim and an enthusiastic fan base, Tesfaye led the set, produced mostly by Illangelo, with a cover of "Dirty Diana," Michael Jackson's unintentionally comical groupie nightmare. Tesfaye not only matched the original's intensity but went so over the top with it that the top was no longer visible. He also continued to find slightly different, occasionally peculiar ways of expressing unapologetically sordid feelings about drugs, partying, drugs, bad girls, drugs, strippers, drugs, good girls gone bad, and drugs -- all of which serve an identical purpose and get the same level of consideration, though "Put that rum down, you don't wanna die tonight" is at least somewhat thoughtful. There are points throughout these works where Tesfaye is distinctively gripping, supplying deadly hooks and somehow singing for his life despite the cold blood flowing through his veins. More often, he needs restraint, as he is prone to repetitious whining that is more young boy than young Keith Sweat. (Check "Same Old Song," 20 percent of which features Tesfaye singing "You're the same old song," over and over, with the final "o" held for several seconds.) Now that he's with a label, he'll hopefully get some kind of filter that enables him to fulfill the promise heard in these 160 minutes of one-dimensional, occasionally exhilarating overindulgence. When this package was released, he was gaining mainstream momentum with appearances on Drake's "Crew Love" and Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You." His potential is as obvious as his lyrics are toxic. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released January 1, 2013 | CP Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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R&B - Released November 25, 2016 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released March 30, 2018 | Universal Republic Records

The Weeknd is going back to his roots on this surprise album (or half album) that he has gifted the world. After a collaborative album with Daft Punk (Starboy), which shot him to international stardom and also brought him a Grammy, the R&B singer from “The 6” (Toronto Metropolitan Area) has shifted back to a more personal effort. Abel Tesfaye, or alias The Weeknd co-writes 6 deeply personal tracks that focus on love, drugs and sex, the perfect formula for an R&B album. He opens up more than ever about his current trials and tribulations with relationships, but his pain is our gain. The 21 minutes of music is vintage The Weeknd from his album Trilogy, deeply chilling with distressed synths and spacey falsetto vocals. OG fans of The Weeknd will love this record, while it will still create many new ones.
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R&B - Released November 25, 2016 | Universal Republic Records

The extent of the 2015 Weeknd commercial rebound, symbolized by platinum certifications for Beauty Behind the Madness and all four of its singles, didn't merely embolden Abel Tesfaye. On this follow-up's fourth track, a blithe midtempo cut where Tesfaye takes a swipe at pretenders while boasting about drinking codeine out of one of his trophies, the level of success is a source of amusement. He notes the absurdity in taking a "kids' show" award for "Can't Feel My Face," in which he was "talkin' 'bout a face numbin' off a bag of blow." The track actually lost to Adele's "Hello," but it clearly, somewhat comically, reached an unintended demographic. It comes as no surprise that Tesfaye, on his third proper album, doesn't attempt to optimize the reach of his biggest hit by consciously targeting youngsters. He sings of being a "Starboy" with access to a fleet of sports cars, but he's a "motherfuckin' starboy," one who is 26 years old and proud to observe his woman snort cocaine off his fancy table. While Starboy often reflects an increased opulence in the personal and professional aspects of Tesfaye's life -- from more upscale pronouns to expensive collaborations with the likes of Daft Punk (two) and "Can't Feel My Face" producers Max Martin and Ali Payami (four) -- the dark moments of vulnerability are pitch black. Lines like "I switch up my cup, I kill any pain" could have come from Tesfaye's mixtape debut, yet there are new levels of torment. In "Ordinary Life," he considers driving off a Mulholland Drive cliff, James Dean style, wishing he could swap everything for angel status. It's followed with "Nothing Without You," a ballad of toxic dysfunction. He asks his lover if she'd feel guilty for not answering his call if he happened to die that night. It's not all dread and depravity. There's some sense of joy in a one-night stand, and an echo of "Say Say Say" Michael Jackson, on the Luomo-ish house track "Rockin'." Contrition is shown in the slick retro-modern disco-funk of "A Lonely Night." Ironically enough, in the aching "True Colors," Tesfaye sounds a little insecure about a lover's past. The album's lighter, comparatively sweeter parts -- the Tears for Fears-sampling/Romantics-referencing "Secrets" and the breezy and only slightly devilish "I Feel It Coming" among them -- are all welcome highlights. At 18 tracks, the album is a "contracted edition" playlist toolkit. The songwriting credits list just under 40 composers, and the productions -- the majority of which involve Doc McKinney and/or Cirkut, low-lighted by maneater dance-punk dud "False Alarm" -- are roughly as variable in style as they are in quality. When pared down to its ten best songs, Starboy sounds like Tesfaye's most accomplished work. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 2, 2018 | Black Panther (TDE - DMG) PS

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Film Soundtracks - Released December 23, 2014 | Fifty Shades of Grey

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R&B - Released March 30, 2018 | Universal Republic Records

The Weeknd is going back to his roots on this surprise album (or half album) that he has gifted the world. After a collaborative album with Daft Punk (Starboy), which shot him to international stardom and also brought him a Grammy, the R&B singer from “The 6” (Toronto Metropolitan Area) has shifted back to a more personal effort. Abel Tesfaye, or alias The Weeknd co-writes 6 deeply personal tracks that focus on love, drugs and sex, the perfect formula for an R&B album. He opens up more than ever about his current trials and tribulations with relationships, but his pain is our gain. The 21 minutes of music is vintage The Weeknd from his album Trilogy, deeply chilling with distressed synths and spacey falsetto vocals. OG fans of The Weeknd will love this record, while it will still create many new ones.

R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

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All bets regarding Abel Tesfaye's career arc were off once Trilogy, material previously released at no (financial) cost to the listener, went platinum. For a period after that, it seemed like the singer had peaked just short of pop-star status. His eager congregation pushed Kiss Land, the proper debut, to number two in the U.S., yet none of its singles, not even the one that featured Drake, reached the Hot 100. "Love Me Harder," a duet with labelmate Ariana Grande released in 2014, proved to be a masterstroke. It put Tesfaye in the Top Ten for the first time and began a streak of similarly effective singles that preceded -- and are included on -- Beauty Behind the Madness. "Earned It," a ballad recorded for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, showed that he could adapt to a traditional pop backdrop. That cut a path for "The Hills," in which Tesfaye alleviated his "day one" base with a typically degenerate slow jam, co-produced by Illangelo, that affirmed "When I'm fucked up, that's the real me" while taking the toxic narrative a step further with lines like "Drugs started feelin' like it's decaf." And then "Can't Feel My Face," a sleek slice of retro-modern disco-funk produced by Max Martin and Ali Payami, landed in June 2015. An obvious pop move, it worked -- it went to number one in the U.S. and several other territories. Tesfaye skillfully delivered his biggest hooks as he sang about dependency in that part-anguished, part-euphoric fashion derived from Michael Jackson. Like its advance singles, the rest of Beauty Behind the Madness is R&B and pop as drug-den paella: chemical and sexual abasement, self-loathing, and self-absorbed belligerence over narcotized sludge and less expected moves that peak with the wholly sweet "As You Are" and crest with a big-band diversion on "Losers." Uneventful collaborations with Kanye West, Ed Sheeran, and Lana Del Rey add star power, though the last of that pack contributes to a moment where Tesfaye turns another corner by acknowledging a dead end through the fog, "addicted to a life that's so empty and so cold." The commercial strides are obvious. The creative advancements are less apparent, obstructed by some unappealing measures, but they're in there. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released October 11, 2015 | The Weeknd

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R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

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All bets regarding Abel Tesfaye's career arc were off once Trilogy, material previously released at no (financial) cost to the listener, went platinum. For a period after that, it seemed like the singer had peaked just short of pop-star status. His eager congregation pushed Kiss Land, the proper debut, to number two in the U.S., yet none of its singles, not even the one that featured Drake, reached the Hot 100. "Love Me Harder," a duet with labelmate Ariana Grande released in 2014, proved to be a masterstroke. It put Tesfaye in the Top Ten for the first time and began a streak of similarly effective singles that preceded -- and are included on -- Beauty Behind the Madness. "Earned It," a ballad recorded for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, showed that he could adapt to a traditional pop backdrop. That cut a path for "The Hills," in which Tesfaye alleviated his "day one" base with a typically degenerate slow jam, co-produced by Illangelo, that affirmed "When I'm fucked up, that's the real me" while taking the toxic narrative a step further with lines like "Drugs started feelin' like it's decaf." And then "Can't Feel My Face," a sleek slice of retro-modern disco-funk produced by Max Martin and Ali Payami, landed in June 2015. An obvious pop move, it worked -- it went to number one in the U.S. and several other territories. Tesfaye skillfully delivered his biggest hooks as he sang about dependency in that part-anguished, part-euphoric fashion derived from Michael Jackson. Like its advance singles, the rest of Beauty Behind the Madness is R&B and pop as drug-den paella: chemical and sexual abasement, self-loathing, and self-absorbed belligerence over narcotized sludge and less expected moves that peak with the wholly sweet "As You Are" and crest with a big-band diversion on "Losers." Uneventful collaborations with Kanye West, Ed Sheeran, and Lana Del Rey add star power, though the last of that pack contributes to a moment where Tesfaye turns another corner by acknowledging a dead end through the fog, "addicted to a life that's so empty and so cold." The commercial strides are obvious. The creative advancements are less apparent, obstructed by some unappealing measures, but they're in there. ~ Andy Kellman
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Dance - Released November 18, 2016 | Universal Republic Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released November 6, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released August 1, 2017 | The Weeknd

R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released November 25, 2016 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released February 17, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

Taken as mood music designed for toxic and illicit late-night situations, House of Balloons -- the debut from Toronto vocalist Abel Tesfaye, released as a free download on his Tumblr blog -- can make for absorptive listening. Joined by producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo, Zodiac, and Rainer, Tesfaye -- to lift a phrase from David Toop -- exemplifies the combination of "sugar and poison" that has powered R&B throughout its evolution. Tesfaye's voice is a gentle, bruised, and occasionally gorgeous-sounding instrument that, through sound and words, mixes based belligerence with palpable inner turmoil. "Let me see that ass, look at all this cash" and "I got my heart right here, I got my scars right here," both from "Wicked Games," sum up the angle. The unrelenting stream of dramatically delivered lyrics about getting high and laid can be draining. If Tesfaye didn’t punctuate so many thoughts with "fuck" and "motherfuckin'," or struggle with completing couplets -- as he does most glaringly with "I'm on that shit you can’t smell, baby/So put down your perfume" -- it wouldn't be a problem. Also, there are instances where it seems likely that Tesfaye does not have Urban Dictionary bookmarked, like when he says he'll "knock your boots off" (an apparent mix of knocking boots and knock your socks off) and brags that he's "always on that okey-dokey" (unless he's proud of being a gullible doormat). Still, Tesfaye and his producers are often ideal foils for one another. The numb, dragged-out melodies and ice-cold drums in "High for This," and the swaggering hook over a chiming lullaby backing in "The Party and the After Party" (one of few instances where Tesfaye views a female as more than a mere conquest) are two of several highlights. House of Balloons is no turning point in a field populated by dozens of elder space cadets and mood architects, from Massive Attack to Spacek to Sa-Ra. As a flawed first step from a young newcomer, however, it's impressive. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released June 17, 2014 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released February 17, 2015 | The Weeknd

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