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The Weeknd has been enjoying quite a year with the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack smash “You Earned It” and the praise he’s garnered for his second studio album, Beauty Behind The Madness. The Canadian singer continues to soar with an appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone for its upcoming issue and unveils a bit about himself for the cover story.

The artist known as Abel Tesfaye, 25, burst onto the scene in 2011 complete with the Drake cosign. Now standing as his own man, The Weeknd has emerged as one of the most electrifying musical talents all while keeping a shroud of mystery about him. His entry into the Rolling Stone annals might change a bit of that perception, however.

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Drake gave Tesfaye a big boost when he featured the Weeknd on his double-platinum 2011 album, Take Care. But for Tesfaye, being under the wing of his fellow Torontonian was a mixed blessing: A handful of songs he’d written for House of Balloons ended up on Take Care. As Tesfaye said in a 2013 interview, “I was hungry….I was like, ‘Dude, take anything.'” Today, he says he has nothing but gratitude for Drake, whom he calls “my closest friend in the industry at that time.” Still, he says, “I gave up almost half of my album. It’s hard. I will always be thankful — if it wasn’t for the light he shined on me, who knows where I’d be. And everything happens for a reason.” That said: “You never know what I would say if this success wasn’t in front of me now.”

It wasn’t long before the major labels came calling. But even then, few would have pegged Tesfaye for the global superstar he is now — least of all him. “Never in a million years,” he says. “At the time, I thought I’d be a punk star — grow my hair out, acne on my face, super-f*cking-skinny. I was looking at artists like Iggy Pop and the Ramones, or Afropunk. But you evolve and realize your potential. And then it’s like, ‘F*ck yeah. Let’s go.'”

Check out the rest of Rolling Stone’s excellent cover story on the Weeknd by following this link.

Check out RS exclusive the mini-documentary on The Weeknd in the clip below.

Photo: Rolling Stone