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Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, is a Canadian R&B recording artist and record producer of Ethiopian descent from Toronto, Ontario. Tesfaye and Jeremy Rose began recording songs under the stage name "The Weekend." Later, without Rose and dropping one of the E's from "weekend", Tesfaye uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name, "The Weeknd," in late 2010, though his identity was initially unknown. In March 2011, The Weeknd released a free nine-song album, House of Balloons, which was critically acclaimed. The title track is based on a sample of Siouxsie and the Banshees' hit single "Happy House." The first album is a part of a trilogy which includes Thursday released in August of the same year and Echoes of Silence issued in December.
In June, House of Balloons was named as one of ten shortlisted nominees of 2011 Polaris Music Prize but eventually lost to Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. On December 21, 2011 Tesfaye released his highly anticipated third mixtape Echoes of Silence. On June 14, the tape was announced as a nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, becoming the second mixtape from the trilogy to receive recognition for the award.