Usher Praises Drake and Frank Ocean, Explains Why He Thought “Climax” Performance Would 'Freak People Out'

Usher had a FaceTime interview with Zane Lowe where they discussed Drake, Frank Ocean, and the making of "Climax."


Photography by Paras Griffin via Getty Images


Usher hopped on a Facetime interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music to discuss music, quarantine self-reflection, and the current school of talented artists, among other things. During the conversation, Usher took a minute to give Drake some praise, as well as explain why he believes Aubrey is a young legend.

"Drake is a student, and I appreciate him, greatly," Usher said. "He's a young legend. I'll give him that. Time only tells who will be the legend and who will stay around. You have to be a student in order for that to be ordained upon you. He has everybody's ears, from the kids. "

The R&B icon went on to describe why he admires Frank Ocean as well, crediting his attention to detail and timeliness when making music. "He's like a library. You know what I'm saying? When you think about his musical influence and how far he can go. As I said, there's only a handful of artists who I think have the ability to come and go when they please."

Usher also discussed the evolution of his own career, describing how nervous he was to drop "Climax, and some of the backstory behind how the song came to be, and its inspiration. "Me and Diplo, we were trying to do something that would raise the bar for R&B," he explained. "And it took me forever to be okay with letting it go, to just like, okay, offer it to the world and care not what people think, just put it out knowing that."

When talking about the backstory for the song, Usher explained there was literally a woman who he was involved with that he couldn't commit to, and that was the climax of their relationship. He got more into the specifics of how major "Climax" was for him, saying, "But the reality is, the conversation in it, I was like, man, I just feel like this might be too much for people. I don't know if they're going to think I'm overthinking it. I just feel like I should be classic R&B. I want to sing in a way that no one else does in this time over a track that I know doesn't fit there. It's going to freak people in R&B [out] and is going to freak people out who are more alternative. ... Because people don't sing in falsetto when you get to that level. They just don't. They don't go in that area."

Recently, Usher also started the "Climax" Challenge on Instagram, encouraging fans to try and reach the high-pitched notes that he does on the song. This ensued following comments that the Weeknd made during a Variety interview, where he recounted hearing "Climax" for the first time in 2012 and thinking, "Holy fuck, that's a Weeknd song" due to how House of Balloons, per Abel, "literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes." The Weeknd felt like the potential influence he'd had on Usher 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.”

Usher also touched on how he thought Pop Smoke was creating his own movement before his untimely murder, how much of a fan he is of Jay Electronica's A Written Testimony, and how he loves that rap cliques like JackBoys are still successful. You can listen to his entire conversation with Zane Lowe on Apple Music.

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