Eric Bellinger drove 20-minute to his studio in Los Angeles on the evening of his album’s release last Friday to softly set the mood to discuss his new album Optimal Music, and share exactly why he actually started the “Climax” Challenge.
Accustomed to his studio of flashing lights, candles, the Grammy-winning crooner is featured on a mural of Marvin Gaye, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, and other legendary singers.
After 27 albums, Bellinger reflects on the message the challenge sends to artists of this generation about accountability. Earlier this month, The Weeknd claimed his classic 2011 House of Balloons mixtape inspired Usher’s 2001 single “Climax” during an interview with Variety.
Eric felt he was speaking up for Usher by starting the challenge just like Gunna co-signing Young Thug against French Montana‘s claim that he had more hits than Kendrick Lamar last week.
“This was something that needed to be said to me because I feel like artists nowadays of this generation and of this culture are just doing and saying whatever they want and nobody is holding anybody accountable,” Eric tells ABC Audio.
“So me being a part of the process of the Looking for Myself album, I really felt connected I feel it was tugging at me to say something.”
Optimal Music was created in collaboration with his longtime friend Nieman J, though their relationship would span over two decades of drives to junior high school and playing sports.
“We grew up together, I’m talking about 20 years of best friendship,” Bellinger tells ABC Audio.
“Our relationship is like one of those ones where it’s like, if you got one of those [friendships], you really got to hold on to it. So it was dope to get to be his voice for music,” he said.