Status 10: Usher Needs No Introduction

By Melva N. Lloyd and Chris Swails

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

It seems like every couple of years a new male R&B artist bursts onto the scene trying to follow in the footsteps of legends like Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and everyone’s favorite icon, the late Michael Jackson.  Some become familiar with the term “one-hit wonder” and others ride the wave of success until they ultimately fall off.  But none have had the impact on the music industry quite like Usher Raymond IV.  After five studio albums and one in the works, numerous awards, an appetite for older women, two children and record sales that put him on a level above almost every other singer in the business, Usher has grown with his fans and remained significant amongst a musical generation that changes at each waking moment.

Usher rose to fame in the 1990s when he released his self-titled debut album on LaFace and Arista Records; although the recording went virtually unnoticed that did not stop record execs and producers Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Jermaine Dupri from going into the studio with the young crooner from Atlanta.  When My Way was released in 1997 it stemmed three hit singles: “U Make Me Wanna”, “Nice and Slow” and “My Way”.  To date, My Way is seen as his breakthrough album, selling eight million copies worldwide and is certified six times platinum in the United States.  Over the next four years Usher would work on his next project 8701, a CD that revealed a much older and more vocally mature artist.

With two widely popular and successful albums already under his belt, the then twenty-three year old seemingly disappeared from the recording studio and wouldn’t release another album for three years.  Without a new song on the radio, Usher somehow managed to stay on the minds of his fans.  But how?  How can even the most accepted artist stay on the radar and not fall victim to age and new talent?  If you’re Usher, it’s pretty straightforward: you don’t.

Its been over five years since the release of Confessions, which many consider to be a masterpiece. I personally think that Confessions is the best R&B album of ‘our’ time, and I’ll leave it at that.

In the spring of 2008 when Usher ‘the family man’ released Here I Stand, the response was mixed. Overall, the album was solid but he was getting a heap of bad press from the marriage with his new-found love, Tameka Foster. This is one of the only times in history that both the fellas and the ladies were upset all upset for the same reason. I guess everyone was thinking the same thing, “Ush you could have stayed with Chillie for all that”, [excuse the urban slanguage].


Now the vows have went sour and Usher has gotten ‘caught up’ yet again, this time with former Def Jam executive Grace Miguel. This news broke about their affair around the same time as his new song, properly entitled “Papers’. The real question is, does Usher have another Confessions in him? Only time will tell but for now Usher stands at the number 8 spot.


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