The Weeknd's Connection to Toronto's Music Scene

The Weeknd’s Connection to Toronto’s Music Scene

The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, has undoubtedly become one of the most iconic and influential figures in the global music industry. His distinctive voice, genre-blending sound, and enigmatic persona have earned him millions of devoted fans worldwide. But behind the artist known as The Weeknd lies a deep-rooted connection to Toronto’s music scene that has played a pivotal role in shaping his career and music. In this article, we’ll delve into The Weeknd’s journey from the streets of Toronto to international stardom and explore the profound impact the city has had on his artistry.

Toronto: The Birthplace of The Weeknd

Abel Tesfaye was born on February 16, 1990, in Scarborough, a suburban district of Toronto, Canada. His early life was far from glamorous, and he faced his fair share of struggles growing up. Yet, it was these very experiences that would eventually find their way into his music, giving it a raw and authentic edge that resonates with listeners around the world.

Growing up in Toronto exposed The Weeknd to a diverse range of cultures and musical influences. The city’s multicultural atmosphere allowed him to experience music from various genres and backgrounds, which would later contribute to his ability to seamlessly blend elements of R&B, hip-hop, electronic, and pop into his own unique sound.

The Mixtape Era: Toronto’s Underground Scene

In the early 2010s, Toronto’s music scene was bustling with creativity, particularly in the realm of hip-hop and R&B. It was during this time that The Weeknd emerged onto the scene with a series of critically acclaimed mixtapes, starting with “House of Balloons” in 2011. These mixtapes were groundbreaking, both in terms of their sound and their distribution method.

The Weeknd’s music felt like a revelation, drawing listeners into a world of seductive melodies and dark, introspective lyrics. His ability to convey complex emotions through his music resonated with audiences in a profound way. Toronto’s underground music scene, with its open-minded and eclectic community, provided the perfect incubator for The Weeknd’s experimental sound to flourish.

Collaborations and Mentorship

One of the key factors in The Weeknd’s rise to prominence was his collaborations with other Toronto-based artists and producers. Notably, he worked closely with the production team known as the “Illangelo,” which helped shape his early sound. This collaborative spirit is emblematic of Toronto’s music scene, where artists often come together to create innovative and boundary-pushing music.

Moreover, The Weeknd’s mentorship under Canadian rapper and entrepreneur Drake played a crucial role in his ascent. Drake, also a Toronto native, recognized The Weeknd’s talent early on and helped introduce him to a wider audience. This mentorship was a testament to the supportive and interconnected nature of Toronto’s music community.

From Local Hero to Global Icon

As The Weeknd’s mixtapes gained traction and critical acclaim, he transitioned to releasing studio albums. His debut studio album, “Kiss Land,” released in 2013, was a commercial success and marked a significant step in his career. However, it was his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” released in 2015, that catapulted him to international stardom.

The album’s lead single, “Can’t Feel My Face,” became a chart-topping hit and solidified The Weeknd’s status as a global icon. His performance at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards further cemented his place in the music industry, earning him several awards and nominations.

Toronto’s Influence on The Weeknd’s Music

While The Weeknd’s success reached far beyond the borders of Toronto, the city continued to play a pivotal role in shaping his music. His lyrics often reference specific locations and experiences in Toronto, providing a sense of place and authenticity to his songs. This connection to his hometown resonated with fans, making him not just an artist they admired but also a representative of their city.

Furthermore, The Weeknd’s music continued to draw from the diversity of Toronto’s culture. He seamlessly incorporated elements of Caribbean, African, and Middle Eastern music into his tracks, reflecting the multicultural tapestry of the city that raised him. This musical diversity not only set him apart in the industry but also contributed to his broad appeal.

Giving Back to Toronto

As The Weeknd’s career soared, he remained committed to giving back to his hometown. In 2017, he donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to establish an Ethiopic Studies program, demonstrating his dedication to supporting education and his Ethiopian heritage. He has also made significant contributions to local causes and organizations, underscoring his deep connection to Toronto and its community.


The Weeknd’s journey from a struggling artist in Toronto’s underground scene to an international superstar is a testament to the city’s vibrant music community and its ability to nurture talent. Toronto provided the fertile ground for The Weeknd to experiment, collaborate, and find his unique voice. His music, rooted in the diverse cultural fabric of the city, continues to resonate with fans worldwide.

As The Weeknd’s career continues to evolve and expand, it is clear that his connection to Toronto will always be an integral part of his identity as an artist. His story serves as an inspiration to aspiring musicians in Toronto and beyond, highlighting the importance of staying true to one’s roots while pursuing global success. In the end, The Weeknd’s connection to Toronto’s music scene is not just a footnote in his biography but a central theme that has shaped his artistry and legacy.


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