Abel Makkonen Tesfaye had a challenging childhood in the city, calling his earlier years a "dark hole" in an interview with The Guardian.
When you’re in a dark hole, at an earlier point in your life – you write about the mindset you’re in at that moment.
Tesfaye is the only son of two Ethiopian immigrants. His father left him and his mother when Tesfaye was just a child, and the two have very minimal contact to this day.
"It was tough growing up where I was from. I got into a lot of trouble, got kicked out of school, moved to different schools and finally dropped out," he said to Variety about his childhood in Scarborough.
"Drugs were a crutch for me," he admitted. He also said that he was homeless for a short period of time.
Tesfaye's debut album House of Balloons is aptly named after one of his Toronto residences — 65 Spencer Avenue in Parkdale.*
According to Refinery 29, this was where Tesfaye lived after he moved out of his childhood home and dropped out of high school at 17.
"It was amazing. No parents, we can do what we want, stay up as late as we want — like, literally for days,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015.
"We’d throw these shitty parties and have girls over, and we’d try to make it celebratory, so we’d have balloons."
During this time, Tesfaye worked at an American Apparel store, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
With a Super Bowl half-time performance under his belt, it's clear that Abel Tesfaye has come a long way since then.
*This article has been updated.