The world could be ending and soft boys would still figure out how to make it about them. This week, Hustlers extra Usher and the Weeknd have discreetly started beefing about an eight-year-old song — clearly quarantine has brought some stuff up. In a new interview with Variety, the Weeknd recalled one of the first moments he felt his music’s impact on the genre, throwing some shade in the process. “House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes,” he said. “I heard ‘Climax,’ that  Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f—, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry.” Coming for an old head in a trade magazine, no less? His After Hours roll-out is full of surprises. Usher, who did not offer comment to Variety, instead captionlessly responded by singing “Climax” a cappella, high notes and all, on his Instagram Story Wednesday night.
We suppose points were made. But what is the Weeknd gonna do? Drop a sick E5? Link a YouTube high note compilation? R&B beef just does not hit the same way as rap beef. Besides, it’s a pandemic. This could be easily mended with a joint Instagram Live where we all sing Confessions. No one can resist “Part II”!
Update Thursday, April 9, 3:45 p.m.: Sauntering into the discourse, presumably wearing a cowboy hat, “Climax” producer Diplo set the record straight on the Weeknd’s influence. “The production on Climax lends itself to House of Balloons era @theweeknd,” he tweeted, confirming the Weeknd’s suspicion. “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.” While Diplo credits the Weeknd with inspiration, he explained that “Climax” started way before the beat came together. “I remember I had the title of the song before I had the beat. It was conceptual from the beginning,” he said. “It was a song that always had a crescendo but never felt like it reached the peak. Kind of like some relationships never make it to where you want them but for a moment it could feel like ecstasy.” … Wait, what were we talking about? Right: Diplo confirmed “Climax” is inspired by House of Balloons, the Weeknd’s publicist is killing this After Hours rollout, and Usher’s legend status remains untouched.
Update Thursday, April 9, 4:30 p.m.: It’s all come full circle and the Weeknd is back in the conversation he started. “Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context,” he tweeted, as we’re left wondering what more context there could be to his verbatim claim that he thought “Climax” sounded like a Weeknd song. “Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO,” he added. That’s one way to put it.
Update Thursday, April 9, 5:30 p.m.: Everyone has weighed in and now everyone’s mad. Speaking as “media,” we’re not the ones who invented blowing things out of proportion. Here’s Ariel Rechtshaid, whose name doesn’t sound like wreckt shade for nothing. First, he corrects Diplo’s tweet, saying “love @EricBellinger but we made this one w @SirElijahBlake,” with an upside down smiley for extra zhuzh. He’s right, though: It was Elijah Blake, not Eric Bellinger, who has a songwriting credit on “Climax.”
Elijah confirmed it, quote-tweeting Diplo and saying, “Bro who is tweeting from your account?”
But all wading into the R&Beef aside, Ariel wants us all to know that he has the “utmost respect to all parties involved. climax was inspired in the room without any subconscious or conscious outside influence.” So now he’s claiming it’s possible to create art without subconscious outside influence? My Theory of English Studies 3 professor would disagree.