MTV Artist To Watch: The Weeknd

Check out MTV's latest Artist To Watch: The Weeknd

Get to know brooding R&B singer-songwriter The Weeknd.

Brooding R&B mastermind Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, knows a little something about, as his fellow Canadian Drake would say, “starting from the bottom.” Before he was selling out venues and collaborating with everyone from Wiz Khalifa (“Remember You“) to, well, Drake (“The Zone“), Abel started his career as an indie music darling, known for releasing all of his music for free online. And you know what they say: You catch more fans with free music than you do, by, er, asking them to pay for stuff.

Read more about The Weeknd after the jump.

Originally from Toronto, Tesfaye started The Weeknd as a project with producer Jeremy Rose in 2010. Though Rose ultimately didn’t continue with The Weeknd, Tesfaye went on to release three free mixtapes via his indie label, XO: House Of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence.

Now, the 2013 VMA “Artist To Watch” nominee is signed to Republic Records and has since released a stunning compilation album, Trilogy, which packs in remastered versions of his mixtape material, plus three additional songs: “Twenty Eight,” “Valerie,” and “Til Dawn (Here Comes the Sun).”

If you’re just tuning into Tesfaye’s work, let’s start with “Twenty Eight” — it’s a dark and tortured track that describes what it feels like to get played by your girl. “I’m so wrong/ To let you in my home/ Now you know where I sleep/ Never felt so damn weak.”

On “Valerie,” Tesfaye asks a woman to take him back with a Michael Jackson-esque wail (P.S. he covered MJ’s “Dirty Diana” on one of his earlier EPs, so I think dude knows what he’s doing). “I wish I didn’t have to lie/ I wish I could let you know/ Cause I love you and I need you/ I only want you,” The Weeknd confesses.

Nowadays, Tesfaye’s readying his debut studio album, Kiss Land, which drops Sept. 10 via XO and Republic Records (available for pre-order on iTunes). And get this: Tesfaye’s only collaborator on the record is none other than his musical BFF, Drake; their joint track will be called “Live For.”

If you want to catch Tesfaye live (and we highly recommend that you do), he’ll hit the road this September on “The Fall” tour. And trust us — between Tesfaye’s gamut-running vocal improv to his shockingly #dark visual stage effects, a Weeknd show is definitely something to cross off your “Music To See And Cathartic Cry” to-do list. (What, doesn’t everybody have one of those?)

+ Watch The Weeknd perform “Wicked Games.”

+ Watch The Weeknd perform “Twenty Eight.”

Photo credit: Republic Records