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7 Controversial Details About The Weeknd’s Past That Often Get Overlooked By Fans

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The Weeknd

For several years now The Weeknd has been an international, chart-topping superstar who is beloved by millions of fans.

Having released his fifth studio album earlier this year to critical acclaim, there’s no denying that The Weeknd will go down in history as one of the most successful artists of this generation.

However, like many of the greats, the Toronto native has seen his share of controversy. 

Some critics find it difficult to support the singer in the face of his problematic lyrics and most questionable behavior. 

Here are 7 controversies that The Weeknd has been involved in.

1. A former friend and collaborator claims The Weeknd stole his stage name.

Before he was a world famous solo artist under the pseudonym The Weeknd, Abel Tesfaye was reportedly one half of a musical duo alongside music producer Jeremy "Zodiac" Rose.

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“We started as a group; it was he and I, and we called ourselves ‘The Weekend.’ I came up with that name, by the way,” Rose claimed in a 2012 interview.

Rose also alleged that he was partially responsible for developing Tesfaye’s signature “grimy” sound and collaborated with him on his breakout album “House Of Balloons” but was never credited or paid for his work.

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock

At the time of the interview, Tesfaye’s team declined a request to comment.

But, that same year, Tesfaye hosted an “Ask Me Anything” series on Reddit and discussed his stage name, making no mention of Rose.

He claimed he initially planned on using “The Weekend” as an album title.

“I hated my name at the time though so I tried it as a stage name,” he added, “It sounded cool. I took out the "e" because there was already a Canadian band named the weekend (copyright issues).”

2. The Weeknd had a public feud with his mentor, Drake.

Fellow Canadian Drake is largely credited with launching The Weeknd’s career after sharing the “Starboy” singer’s music on his October's Very Own (OVO) blog in 2011, featuring him on his “Take Care” album and even bringing him out during multiple performances and tours.

Instagram

Drake had even publicly discussed plans to sign The Weeknd to his OVO Sound label. So, fans were shocked when Tesfaye signed with Republic Records in 2012.

At the time, Drake tweeted, “You won't get away with just a thank you...you owe me a favor,” a statement many presumed to be about The Weeknd.

The two managed to remain somewhat civil until 2015, when Tesfaye claimed that he “gave up almost half of [his] album” to Drake’s “Take Care.”

Drake later hit back at this allegation by saying, "Abel Tesfaye CO WROTE on 'Shot For Me' and 'Practice,' obviously was featured on 'Crew Love' and 'The Ride' and that’s it. There’s 20 songs on that album … don’t try me."

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Fast forward to 2019, things were still rocky between the two when The Weeknd released “Lost In The Fire” with lyrics that seemed to diss Drake.

“And I just want a baby with the right one,” he sings, “'Cause I would never be the one to hide one." 

Drake famously hid the birth of his son, Adonis.

The pair have since squashed the beef and have been seen together, seemingly back on good terms, but some Drake fans have had trouble accepting The Weeknd’s betrayal.

3. The Weeknd punched a police officer in 2015.

In January 2015, Tesfaye was arrested in Las Vegas after punching a police officer who had been called to the scene of a fight between the singer and another person.

He was charged with battery of a protected person to which he pleaded no contest but managed to avoid jail time.

According to reports, The Weeknd was ordered to pay $1,000 to a fund for injured police officers, complete an anger management course, undergo alcohol evaluation and perform 50 hours’ community service.

4. The Weeknd has been accused of plagiarism multiple times.

In 2015, Cutting Edge Music Limited filed a lawsuit accusing the singer, his producers, and music labels for allegedly stealing the bassline in The Weeknd’s “The Hills” from the score of the 2013 sci-fi movie "The Machine."

The song’s producer allegedly sent the composer of the score a message via Twitter, telling him about the sample but Cutting Edge Music LTD. claim they were not credited appropriately.

In 2021, a lawsuit filed by producers Suniel Fox and Henry Strange claimed Tesfaye’s “Call Out My Name” sounded "strikingly and/or substantially similar, if not identical" to their 2015 song "Vibeking."

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 The lawsuit claims Strange sent the song to Tesfaye’s producer who said he would tell the singer that his team penned the song because Tesfaye “didn’t know” who Strange was.

5. The Weeknd shames women and promotes toxic masculinity in his songs.

The Weeknd’s overtly sexual lyrics are often deemed misogynistic due to their subject matter.

In many of his songs, The Weeknd refers to women as “b-tches” and speaks about using them for sex.

Critics often reference the line “I just f-cked two b-tches ‘fore I saw you” from his 2015 single “The Hills” as being a reflection of his view on women.

In “Die For You” when he openly writes about manipulating women, “I’m finding ways to manipulate the feelin’ you’re goin’ through.”

Then, when The Weeknd released the music video for “Save Your Tears” in 2020, he debuted a prosthetic new face that many interpreted as a commentary on the popularity of plastic surgery and cosmetic enhancements among women.

Some have deemed this a diss towards his ex-girlfriend, Bella Hadid, who is suspected to have gotten cosmetic procedures.

Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock

Though The Weeknd has never made this connection himself, it does appear that the video shames women for doing what they want with their bodies. 

6. He was accused of biphobia in his ‘Lost In The Fire’ lyrics.

The Weeknd was accused of doubling down on his lyrical misogyny by promoting violence against bisexual women in his 2019 track “Lost In The Fire.”

In it, Tesfaye sings, “You said you might be into girls, you said you’re going through a phase,” before uttering some pretty offensive lyrics.

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“Well, baby, you can bring a friend, she can ride on top your face while I fuck you straight.”

Some interpreted the lyrics to mean that Tesfaye was suggesting that a man could force a bisexual woman to become straight.

The lyrics also promote the fetishization of bi women by implying that bisexual women exist to engage in threesomes with men.

Some even assumed The Weeknd was outing his then-girlfriend Bella Hadid – which, if true is also deeply problematic – however Hadid has never publicly addressed her sexuality and Tesfaye never confirmed if the song was about her.

7. The Weeknd was accused of cheating on Bella Hadid and is now dating her former best friend.

When he isn’t throwing shots at Hadid in his music, Tesfaye is allegedly doing it in real life.

The couple dated from 2015 to 2016 and again from 2018 until 2019 when they split for good.

While they were considered an It Couple at the time, things were reportedly rocky from early in the relationship.

In late 2015, reports emerged that The Weeknd had cheated on Hadid with two different women. 

Instagram

Similar rumors circled their relationship later, including reports that the “Blinding Lights” singer had been two-timing Hadid with Selena Gomez, who he then dated for several months in 2017.

And, if recent events are anything to go by, The Weeknd certainly has no issue hurting his model ex-girlfriend.

The singer has recently been rumored to be dating Simi Khadra who was formerly best friends with Hadid. Though, needless to say, that friendship seems to have ended now.

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.

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