The Weeknd and Usher “Climax” Debacle, Summarized – Pitchfork

The Weeknd was featured on the latest cover of Variety following the recent release of his new album, After Hours. In the interview with Variety’s Jem Aswad published yesterday (April 8), the singer talks about the new album at length.

Amid all the relatively typical album-cycle conversation about influences and what individual songs are about, a small exchange about fellow pop star Usher has sparked some social media chatter. It appears as the Weeknd discusses Usher’s Diplo-produced hit “Climax” from 2012, which came out a few months after the Weeknd first found real acclaim with his Trilogy mixtapes. Here’s the quote from the Variety interview:

I heard “Climax,” that Usher song, and was like, “Holy fuck, that’s a
Weeknd song.” It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something
right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a
good thing.

The day the interview was published, an internet debate brewed about whether the Usher song was influenced by the Weeknd. Meanwhile, Usher and his frequent collaborator Eric Bellinger issued the “Climax Challenge” on Instagram. Bellinger directly challenged the Weeknd to sing the song himself, and not long after, Usher filmed himself singing it while lying in bed. He made no mention of the Weeknd or anyone else in the video.

This afternoon, Diplo commented that the Weeknd may have been an influence for him during the song’s creation. “The production on ‘Climax’ lends itself to House of Balloons era [the Weeknd],” Diplo tweeted. “When I heard those early records they blew my mind—soulful in their silences, and a spacey iconic voice that felt uniquely internet. the idea of R&B having dark edges was what I wanted to bring to [Usher].”

Ariel Rechtshaid, who also worked on the track with Diplo and Usher, had his own perspective on the idea that the Weeknd influenced the song. “I tweet this with the utmost respect to all parties involved,” he wrote. “‘Climax’ was inspired in the room without any subconscious or conscious outside influence.”

Over 24 hours after the interview went up, the Weeknd attempted to clarify his position on Usher and the 2012 song “Climax.” “Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context,” he wrote. “Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax.”

As of now, Usher has not given any sort of direct comment on the matter. He did, however, tweet the following shortly after:


Listen to “Climax” below.

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