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Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Eric Bellinger was a large part of R&B star Usher‘s seventh studio album in 2012, “Looking 4 Myself,” which features the hit ballad “Climax.” That’s the same “Climax” Canadian singer The Weeknd recently said copied the moody R&B blueprint of his 2011 mixtape, “House of Balloons.”
Soon after, Bellinger, 34, took to social media to start the #ClimaxChallenge, daring The Weeknd and his own 835K followers to sing the song’s delicate chorus for the masses online. Usher himself was one of the first to oblige, later sharing several renditions from fans on his own Instagram Live.
When asked why he started the challenge, the California native told Page Six it was a light-hearted way of addressing the accusation leveled at the “Yeah!” artist, to which Bellinger himself also took offense.
“I definitely felt offended. For one, I was there through the whole [album making] process, and two, that’s like my big bro! I knew [Usher] wasn’t going to say anything, I knew no one else was going to say anything. You know, that’s The Weeknd, number-one artist in the world, but I just feel like we live in a day and age where nobody holds anyone accountable.
“I just meant it all in fun,” he continued. “I wasn’t trying to slice his head off, I just wanted to say ‘Alright, you feelin’ yourself now, so let’s do a challenge and all I’m asking is for you to sing the song that you inspired,’” he said with a laugh.
But an hour before our discussion, “Climax” producer Diplo revealed via Twitter that the production of the Grammy-winning song was indeed influenced by “House of Balloons.”
“When I heard those early records they blew my mind – soulful in their silences, and a spacey iconic voice that felt uniquely internet,” Diplo tweeted. “the idea of R&B having dark edges was what I wanted to bring to @usher one of my favorite voices of all time. I’m glad Usher, Ariel, Eric, and I all got together to make that epic song. I remember I had the title of the song before I had the beat. It was conceptual from the beginning.”
Bellinger appreciates the comments but says he simply felt the need to defend his collaborator — who immediately received hate from young music fans who may not know their history.
“For them to say ‘We’re just talking about the production,’ I feel like it’s cool to say that, but for the sake of the new generation and them not knowing, I have to speak up. They were smashing Usher like Usher is nobody. So I was like, nah, we need to at least for the love of R&B music just let them know. Any chance that I get, I’m always going to stand for the music.”
The Weeknd has also replied to the drama stemming from his original comments, saying many have blown things out of proportion.
“Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO.”
The “After Hours” crooner originally told Variety, “I heard ‘Climax,’ that Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f–k, 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.”
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