usher // "climax" (prod. by diplo)
by jared silva
R&B megastar Usher has had some testy collaborations to speak about in recent memory (David Guetta, will.i.am), but it can all be made up for now in his first, and hopefully not last, joint effort with DJ/producer Diplo on the track ”Climax.”
The club banging, electro-dance beats and auto-tuned vocals that have taken over Usher’s most recent batch of hits are replaced here by Diplo’s haunting slow jam landscape and minimalist electronica vibe. An in-and-out drum machine and buzzing synth adds to the overall structured complexity, creating something of a “quiet storm,” akin to what has made underground artists like The Weeknd and James Blake so big last year. Usher brings to the table a chilling falsetto, singing lyrics soulfully describing reaching an end of a relationship with nothing more to give. Additional support comes from contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly, who has done work in the past with indie band Grizzly Bear, where he builds up the tension post-chorus and literally creates a climax with Usher’s painful outcry: “I gave my best, it wasn’t enough / You get upset, we argue too much / We’ve made amends what used to be love / So why do I care at all?”
The end result is brilliant for all parties involved. What we have here for Usher, going back to his R&B/slow jam roots in an remarkable fashion alongside the intense subtle production from Diplo, is a re-energization of style fit for the electric modern era. The music these two make together is utterly impressive and hopefully a change in tone for Usher’s next album release, possibly a similar direction like Kanye West with 808s and Heartbreak. It could be the kind of change up Usher needs, not just to stay fresh, but the kind of change radio and pop music needs right now while in a current era of staleness.
Listen to more from Usher and Diplo now, via Spotify.