“So when we got to work with Usher, he was saying ‘I've gotten so much success from the pop world recently and I can’t just leave them hanging, but my real fan base is from the urban world and from what I've been able to accomplish in R&B. On this album I want to be able to please everybody.’ He was so successful with [songs like ‘O.M.G.’] and the R&B people were like, What about us? So I had like the hardest task—how do I please both of those audiences? Honestly when he was telling me that I was like, Hell if I know, cause that sounded difficult as hell.
I've gotten so much success from the pop world recently and I can’t just leave them hanging, but my real fan base is from the urban world and from what I've been able to accomplish in R&B. On this album I want to be able to please everybody.
“So he plays me some of the stuff he's done and then Diplo is sitting there and I didn’t even know that was Diplo, cause I had never seen him. He was talking and I was like, ‘Who’s that...?’ I thought, maybe Usher's experimenting cause I don’t even know who these guys are; I don’t feel so weird cause they are new guys too. So then Diplo is like, ‘What’s your name?’ And when I told him he was like, ‘Oh, I've heard of you.’ And I was like, ‘What’s your name?’ And he was like, ‘Diplo.’ And I was like ‘Ohhhh.’ This shit should have been on a TV show, cause I was like, ‘I heard of you too, man.’
“Usher was so focused on, like, bridging the gap that he was like, anything that was a good song he would say, like, ‘OK, that’s a good song but I just wanna be great.’ And they would go to the wayside. So we were all kinda tense cause we were like, If it’s not the best shit ever then he's not even gonna listen to it.
“What really broke the ice honestly was Connect Four. I'm unbeatable at Connect Four. It’s very spooky how good I am. So he sends the intern and the intern brings back Connect Four and Usher’s competitive so the fact that I said no one can beat me was enough to get everyone. It was a room full of guys so those were fighting words: I said no one could beat me. For days, honestly, me and Usher played round after round of Connect Four and Usher would not stop. I was like, 'We gotta get a song' and he was like ‘Nope.’ He was like, I can’t believe this guy is so sneaky. Everyone was taking turns and could not beat me. Why I was so good at that game is, when I was younger I was a hustler, and they had a Connect Four thing at recess after lunch. We would have it in classrooms so that’s how I would get extra lunch money to buy the snacks that my mom didn’t want me eating. So I would play people in Connect Four and get their money.
So I got really good at that game but Usher kept wanting to play me and I understand that he was competitive but after a while he's gotta want to stop. But this guy was learning my strategy and he played me for like two days and I was killing him. I was like, ‘It’s not even fair.’ I'm talking all this trash. Then the third day he kicked my ass. He mastered my technique and killed me. And now I'm like, OK, but that taught me something. You don’t always have to get it right the first time as long as you get it right. You know what I mean? Me killing him and beating him that many times it didn’t discourage him. It just made him wanna learn it more to be better than me. And so he's just like, Lemme show you why I've been able to stay in this game this long. It’s cause I've been able to adapt. And that’s what he did. He adapted to my playing style and then as he beat me. He was like, ‘You’re really good at this. There’s only one person I've ever played that’s been as good as you.’ I said ‘Who?’ And he said Beyonce. I said ‘Get outta here’ and he's like, ‘She’s incredible at this game.’
For days, honestly, me and Usher played round after round of Connect Four and Usher would not stop. I was like, 'We gotta get a song' and he was like ‘Nope.’
“So that broke the ice and then the next day we ended up doing it. Diplo had the track for ‘Climax,’ and we were like, ‘This is a great track but what the hell do we sing to it?’ And we were just like putting our ideas out and I was singing melodies and he was like, I like this, I don’t like this—hands on. And we ended up coming up with 'Climax.'
At the time I was like, I know this is a weird song, I dunno how it’s gonna end up being perceived cause it’s like... I didn’t know. So the next day Usher came through and blasted it and played it—it had to be like six times straight—and danced to it. Or definitely more than that. I don’t wanna sound like I'm exaggerating but it was a lot, and he was like performing to it in front of the speakers and I was like, Wow this could really be something.
“The way ‘Climax’ happened honestly was I actually have a bunch of concepts in my phone, like a ton of concepts, I have like at least like 400 concepts so usually when we write I will just throw out concepts and he’ll be like, I like this, I don’t like this—and bounce them around. So the concept of that song was the peak of a relationship where it comes to a stop not because someone cheated or lied but just where there's no excitement left because everything has been exhausted and two people just call it a relationship cause they're comfortable and don't necessarily know if they want to invest the time to start a new relationship let alone look for one so you're basically torn.
“The melody and the hook is what came first and then I was like, ‘This is so high... Is he gonna drop the key?' And then he went in there and sang it falsetto. Sometimes I get in trouble cause any song that I write is like super high, so people always say ‘There goes another Redd song,’ cause it’s like super-high. But every now and then you come across a talent like Usher who can sing those types of songs and not have to change it. I just felt that song was something special when we did it. They say you know but I really knew—cause me and Usher did a lot of songs. And people were like, You told us there was one song that was gonna be it. And they know it when they hear it."