"I'm still digesting it, to be honest with you," Tesfaye says of his success.
"But the screams keep getting louder, dude."Tesfaye comes over to say hi, dressed in black Levi's and a Roots hoodie, his tsunami of hair piled high atop his head.
For Tesfaye, that's relatively clean, but he knows the pensioners in Twickenham might disagree.
So when the verdict comes back "no swearing," he nods and smoothly pivots to a censored version — a small gesture that says a lot about the kind of professional he has become."The Hills" is currently enjoying its fourth straight week at Number One, a feat made even more impressive because it took the place of another Weeknd track, "Can't Feel My Face" — Spotify's official song of the summer, and the only song about cocaine ever to be lip-synced by Tom Cruise on network TV.
The cold caught up with him yesterday, during a signing for 500 squealing fans at the Oxford Circus HMV. "We live in an era when everything is so excessive, I think it's refreshing for everybody to be like, ' Who the fuck is this guy? "I think that's why my career is going to be so long: Because I haven't given people everything."Spend just five minutes with him, though, and he reveals himself: sweet, soft-spoken, surprisingly earnest.
When I tell him he's not what I expected, he nods.
"Oliver was the one vouching for me."The then-anonymous Tesfaye declined all interviews.
In part, it was because he worried he wasn't well-spoken enough: A high school dropout, he used to do crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary, and to this day, he often wishes he were more articulate.
"Like, I just started learning how to pronounce what I'm wearing." He imitates a snooty shopgirl: "' It's not Bal-When he first started recording as the Weeknd, Tesfaye was an unlikely star. The aesthetic was American Apparel-style hipster catnip, right down to the Helvetica font.
"When people meet me, they say that I'm really kind — contrary to a lot of my music."When talking about his art and his career, Tesfaye is blessed with a towering self-confidence and has no hesitation about declaring his own greatness.
"People tell me I'm changing the culture," he says. I think I'm gonna drop one more album, one more powerful body of work, then take a little break — go to Tokyo or Ethiopia or some shit." Hearing him boast about talking shop with Bono, or name-dropping "Naomi Campbell, who's a good friend of mine now," you may be tempted to see a diva in the making; or you may see a 25-year-old guy who's stoked and incredulous to be in the position he's in.
Tesfaye is just the 12th artist in history to score back-to-back Number Ones, a group that includes Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Taylor Swift.
His new album, has sold more than half a million copies in a couple of months, and he's preparing to launch a national arena tour in November. " In a darkened soundstage on the outskirts of London, Abel Tesfaye is wondering if he can say "fuck" or not.