The Weeknd has been on a tear recently. His latest album, After Hours, has been sitting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for the past two weeks, while the single "Blinding Lights" has been doing the same on the Billboard Hot 100.
Even with all this momentum, though, Abel Tesfaye felt the urge to reassert his generational greatness by taking on one of the greatest R&B performers of all time: Usher.
In a new interview with Variety, The Weeknd suggested that Usher's beloved 2012 hit "Climax" was largely influenced by the sound heard throughout his 2011 debut mixtape House Of Balloons.
"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*ck, 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."
As it turns out, The Weeknd's judgment wasn't too far off. Diplo, the sole producer on "Climax," tweeted that he was deeply inspired by the darkness of House Of Balloons when working with Usher.
"The production on Climax lends itself to House of Balloons era @theweeknd," he wrote.
The Weeknd then posted a screenshot of Diplo's tweet to his Instagram Story along with a caption that referred to Usher as "a King and always an inspiration."
Though Usher has yet to address The Weeknd's original comments, he started the #ClimaxChallenge late Wednesday as an indirect response. Participants are challenged to sing the "Climax" hook, which involves hitting several high-pitched notes.
Usher's longtime collaborator Eric Bellinger shared some additional submissions and even called on The Weeknd to give it a shot.
During a recent FaceTime interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Usher described some of the inspiration behind "Climax." "Me and Diplo, we were trying to do something that would raise the bar for R&B," he said.
There wasn't any mention of The Weeknd as a reference point.