Abel Tesfayes tortured, genre-bending R& amp; B has brought him millions of fans, a triple platinum album and partnerships with Daft Punk and Beyonc. Will mainstream success construct him happy?
A degree of mystery attends the buildup to my meeting with Abel Tesfaye, the 26 -year-old Ethiopian-Canadian who for some time now ever since his stealth emergence as a recording artist in Toronto in 2010 has been constructing varied, often exceptional, ever more popular music for the purposes of the assumed name of the Weeknd. It is early November. He has a new album thats nearly finished, a follow-up to last years 3.6 m-selling Beauty Behind The Madness, and at breathtakingly short notification I have been summoned to Rotterdam, where Tesfaye is due to sing a way from the new record at the MTV European Music awards, for a rare interview.
I was told, flying in, to expect some sort of audience around midnight. Afterward, if Tesfaye used to go partying after the gig. But orders change and I arrive at a hotel in Rotterdam in the early evening, a few hours before hes due on the MTV stage. From the vestibule, Tesfayes bodyguard, Big Rob Feggans, whose moniker holds up, bodyguards me into a lift. Up a few levels, Feggans results the style along a hallway and at the end of it knocks on a door, summoning out another member of the Weeknds entourage. This man emerges to take two brisk steps across the hallway and knock on another doorway. Theres a plate of done-with chicken on the floor outside Tesfayes room. We wait beside it.
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