Elijah Blake
Elijah Blake
Photo Credit: Elijah Blake

Elijah Blake 'Climax' Co-Songwriter Clears the Air on The Weeknd & Usher's Internet Beef [Interview]

Elijah Blake Photo Credit: Elijah Blake

In an exclusive interview, Blake digs into his archives and shares who was really in the room during the "Climax" recording and shares details on how the song came into fruition.

Things have been getting crazy on the Internet lately, and we’ve noticed.  As everyone sits in their homes working and keeping busy, celebrities have been reminding us that we’re mere peasants. The latest series of events to take place online included a beef between two unlikely opponents Usher and The Weeknd

In a recent interview with Variety, the XO artist pretty much made it clear that he thinks Usher’s 2012 “Climax” was inspired by his cult-favorite mixtape House of Balloons. Here’s what he actually said in the feature, “House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes,” he shared. “I heard ‘Climax,’ that [2012] 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.” 

This quote circulated massively and opened a can of worms. Following its initial release, Usher went on his Instagram Story and sang “Climax” gloriously a capella (while laying down). Then things started getting weird. Diplo who produced the track entered the chat and tweeted about The Weeknd’s influence, “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.” He also shared that “Climax” started way before the beat came together. 

“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,” he added. (Honestly, in our house, Usher still reigns as the "King of R&B").

Things got a little more curious as the day continued to go on, The Weeknd decided to tie things up neatly. He tweeted the following yesterday:

“Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context. Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO.”

Here’s where singer-songwriter Elijah Blake, a co-writer of “Climax” comes in. Since Blake cut his teeth in the late ‘00s by penning for countless acts, we decided to ask him about the Internet debacle. Via email, he shared these were the folks in the room when the track was coming together: himself, Diplo, Ariel Rechtsaid, Usher, Mark Pitts, Walter Jones, and Usher's engineer.

When Blake initially heard about The Weeknd and Usher’s public squabble he wasn’t surprised. In fact, he told us that he’d heard the XO singer felt a way about the track “through mutual industry peers.” He just wasn’t sure how much truth was behind these claims. But on the brighter side, Blake added, “ I’m honestly taking the whole thing in fun. I felt he was trolling with that accusation so I trolled back a little but I honestly have no beef with Abel.”

Since we were curious about his musings on the industry, we chopped it up with Blake and he divulged his thoughts on his latest single “Frenemies,” the pop culture landscape and the current Instagram Live battles we’ve all been witnessing and loving. Check out the interview below. 

What is your general writing process like?

Honestly, it varies. Sometimes it’s done in complete isolation just me plus music and sometimes it’s in collaboration with other creatives who I feel bring a different perspective or approach to the process.

Does the process differ when a song is for you versus when it's for another artist?

The only difference is I make it a point to tell my story and truth as transparent as possible with mine. With other artists, I’m only helping illustrate their narrative and vision.

How did the concept for the writing of "Climax" come about? Was it something that was for your catalog or did you know it was something you were going to shop?

It was so out of nowhere. I got a call to come to New York and work [with] Usher one night and the next thing I know I’m on a flight. I learned so much from those sessions whether it be Usher talking about the space he was in making Confessions and as much as I love Diplo, I don’t know what that tweet was about. The Weeknd was not a part of any [conversation] in that room I had never even heard of him until after the song came out months and months later.

What do you think fans of R&B and the music industry at large should take away from The Weeknd and Usher's debacle and all of the other songwriter battles we have been seeing during quarantine?

To show love and respect to artists and creatives alike. We work really hard to bring y’all the soundtrack of your lives we just want fair royalty rates and streaming compensation to keep it going.

Who would you want to go up against in a battle?

I'm having so much being a fan with these! The people I really [want to] see are the Babyfaces, the Teddy Riley’s. So although I’ve had a lot of success with the pen respectfully, there aren’t many from my generation that come to mind. Again that’s no shade, even just musically I’ve always been vocal about wishing I was born in the '70s so I could [have] been an '80s rockstar like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Jimi Hendrix.

Can you break down your newest single "Frenemies" and a bit on how it came into fruition?

The concept of "Frenemies" came about due to watching real friends fight on social media and expose deep dark secrets. Watching fistfights with family and backstabbing made me say 'wow this Internet really got people out here sad.' The big one for me was Nipsey being killed by his own one-time friend.

Check out the video for Elijah Blake's Frenemies below: