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"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.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. 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.There are Tumblrs and website listicles devoted to it; when I told the immigration agent at Heathrow what I was doing in the U.K., he said, "That's the geezer with all the hair, innit?"; Sal is a courtly charmer who grew up in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war and now dates a former Miss USA.Right now, they're trying to figure out how to get from Norway, where Tesfaye will be for promo in a few days, to Texas, where he has a show. The tour manager says he'll check, but they're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"I don't know how many it actually was, but it felt like a million," Tesfaye says. "Apparently, Drake wasn't even fucking with it at first," Tesfaye says today.That's when Tesfaye realized he "could run with the whole enigmatic thing," he says now."If it backfired, I probably for the rest of my life," he says. No one can do a trilogy again without thanking the Weeknd.According to their tour manager, the only commercial flight from Oslo to Austin is at 8 a.m. Cash looks around and grins: "The label's paying for it, right? I feel amazing right now."The next afternoon, Tesfaye is in a seventh-floor suite at his Soho hotel, having spent most of the previous 18 hours in bed.(There was also a B12 shot involved.) When a bellman brings in a silver tray with a selection of waters, Tesfaye pours himself a glass.