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There's no denying The Weeknd's influence over today's string of moody/alternative R&B. The singer-songwriter has changed the scope of the genre with his mix of synths and dark lyrics but the artist believes he inspired one of the biggest artists in the genre in the process.
As the cover star of Variety's latest issue, The Weeknd discussed the success of After Hours, transitioning into mainstream music and his presence in R&B. While looking back on his classic 2010 mixtape House of Balloons, he noted how two years later he began hearing his sound in other artists.
“House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes,” he said. “I heard ‘Climax,’ that  Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f**k, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It 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.”
But the resurgence of EDM in the early 2010s might've inspired Usher's hit single. "Climax" which went on to win the Grammy for Best R&B Performance in 2013, was produced by Diplo who looked towards house music and "Atlanta strip clubs" to create the track.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2012, Diplo discussed how he learned about Usher's musical palate which included an appreciation for genre-bending artists like Monsters of Folk and Grizzly Bear.
"The production actually started as a house thing with a chord progression that I wrote, but with some time in the studio alone, I was making a sort of "wildfire" beat out of it," Diplo said." The idea of pushing cut-off on a synth used so much in progressive house music but pulling back. I was making something like a minimal techno record with Atlanta strip clubs in mind."
He also shared how much Usher knew of his work outside of Major Lazer. "Usher knew about my first album on Ninja Tune, Florida," he added. "I was so surprised about how much these guys are into music beyond their normal lane. That is something that makes it very easy to work with him. Usher has the power to take a record into any lane. He's that big. He brought house music to the R&B crowds in America, and with "Yeah!" he brought synths to Atlanta hip-hop. I think he wasn't going to these producers for their sounds ... We all know what they do. Usher is a smart man, he has been doing this for long enough. He's using the producers instead of the other way around."
"Climax" ended up on Usher's Looking For Myself album, which played to all his strengths with dance tracks like "Scream," quiet storm jams like "Dive" and "What Happened To U" and the clubs like "Lemme See" with Rick Ross.
Legendary superproducer Max Martin also worked on "Climax" and would eventually work with The Weeknd on Beauty Behind The Madness standouts like "Can't Feel My Face" and "In The Night."
This isn't the first time the two have been compared to one another. The Weekend issued an apology to Usher in 2016 during the Billboard Music Awards after he mistakenly claimed to win the most awarded male R&B vocalist in the show's history. The Weeknd took home eight trophies including Top R&B Artist and Top R&B Album for Beauty Behind The Madness.
But Usher famously took home 11 trophies in the 2004 telecast for his magnum opus, Confessions including awards for Artist of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, and Hot 100 Song of the Year for "Yeah!".
Elsewhere in the interview, The Weeknd also explained his decision to release After Hours in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Fans had been waiting for the album, and I felt like I had to deliver it," he said."The commercial success is a blessing, especially because the odds were against me: [Music] streaming is down 10%, stores are closed, people can’t go to concerts, but I didn’t care. I knew how important it was to my fans.”
The album amassed 2 billion global streams in its first week and debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., Ireland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and New Zealand.
John Krasinski has brought smiles to The Office Fans with the launch of his creative Some Good News show on YouTube but the actor took things to another level by reuniting the original cast of Hamilton to surprise a nine-year-old girl.
Aired late Sunday (April 5), Krasinski welcomed Aubrey to the show after her parents shared how their daughter watched Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins Returns after she was unable to fly to New York to see Hamilton on Broadway. While social distancing is a brief new normal, Blunt who is married to Krasinski popped into their Zoom interview to surprise Aubrey.
But the good news didn't stop there. Krasinski then promised Aubrey he would fly her family to New York to see Hamilton once Broadway opens its doors. And miraculously, he managed to reunite the entire cast where they performed "Alexander Hamilton."
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Leslie Odom Jr., Anthony Ramos, Jonathan Groff and more shocked the 9-year-old, who was left speechless during the performance.
Elsewhere in the broadcast, Krasinski shared good news from around the world, including many fans making their own version of the show. Robert De Niro also shares the weather in a very De Niro kind of way.
Krasinski, who also stars alongside Blunt in The Quiet Place, created the Some Good News show to prove positive news always wins. His first guest was none other than Steve Carell with the two talking about the 15th anniversary of the iconic Office series.
Enjoy the good news above.
Quibi's launch of original content has revealed an in-depth look into LeBron James' I Promise school based in the athlete's hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The docuseries explores young scholars attending the school and the traumas they've faced in their very short lives. I Promised officially opened in 2018, taking in low-income students who reportedly were among the worst performers in Akron’s public schools.
Speaking to People, James explained how the school's mission isn't just to improve grades but to provide emotional support the children will take into adulthood.
“Hope is a very powerful thing. No matter the situation, if a kid knows someone truly believes in them, that changes their outlook on everything,” James said. “With our school, everything is built on giving kids the confidence that they can do anything. They know I believe in them, they know their teachers, the whole staff, and everyone we’ve put around them believes in them. It’s incredible what they can do when they feel that support.”
Each student was handpicked with some improvement at record speed. According to The New York Times, 216 of 240 I Promise students met or exceeded their expected growth at the mid-year mark. “At the I PROMISE School, our goal is to let every single kid know they are special,” James added. “That they can be whatever they want to be. And that starts with addressing everything they’re going through before they even step foot in a classroom.”
Before its opening, James ensured that the parents of the students would also have a chance to expand their education and job hunt. Students also receive breakfast, lunch and snacks with access to an in-house food bank.
In the Quibi doc, James' mother Gloria Marie James, also shared how her son struggled in school as a child and how the player used his own life experience to help improve the school's mission statement.
“You’ll hear from my mom in the documentary, who shares how much we both can relate to what these kids and their families are going through,” he said. “A lot of what we do at I Promise School is based on our experience and that’s what makes the connection so real. We have a mutual understanding of each other and what we’re going through, and I think that gives us all the drive we need to succeed for one another.”
Like many schools around the country, I Promise teachers are engaging with students on platforms like Zoom.
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Our family looks a little bit different on the computer screen than they do at school…🤔🤣 but there is truly nothing like family! #WeAreFamily
Quibi, a new streaming service from Jeffery Katzenberg, founder and CEO of Dreamworks, officially launched Monday with original content from the likes of Ariana Grande, Keke Palmer, Lena Waithe and more.
Luckily for T-Mobile customers, Quibi is on the house for a full year. T-Mobile customers with two or more voice lines at standard rates on Magenta and ONE plans with taxes and fees included — along with discounted First Responder, Military and Magenta Plus 55 plans — or small business customers with up to 12 lines, can get Quibi (regularly $4.99) added to their plan for free.
Customers can sign up between now and July 7 to get Quibi on Us by going to mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android.
See the full list of shows on the platform here.