Usher Raymond IV has been around a long time, yet he’s only 31-years-old. That’s what happens when you start your career as a teenager, become one of the most successful artists in the burgeoning Atlanta music scene and become the young gun following in the skilled footsteps of folks like Michael Jackson. But Usher has had his share of controversy. He apparently enjoys women who are much older than him, as his relationships with Chili and now ex-wife Tameka Raymond have shown and he’s not above using those relationships for fodder for his albums.
On his latest “Raymond Vs. Raymond” he’s ready to sign those papers (and in real life, he did) and looking for a “little freak.” While the father of two sons with his ex-wife appeared to be settling down on his last CD, “Here I Stand” his fans weren’t quite ready. We found out what was on his mind by culling some of his most recent interviews as well as some ones from the past. Here’s what’s going on with Usher these days in his own words.
ON THE NEW CD
With ‘Raymond v. Raymond’ I’m coming back to what people know me for. If you bring back what people loved about you and remind them nothing’s changed, then they’re right back where they were before…This album isn’t specifically about my marriage. It’s about the tug-of-war between man and woman, and the honesty a man has to have.”
New York Times, 2010
“Part of the reason why I did this album was so you can understand the full spectrum of who I am as an artist. My life has been kinda played out as a journey and going through different chapters, with the albums representing the chapters. It’s the sixth album for me. And when I look back to the people that I admire, I admire people who take you on a journey to where they have been, musically, places they have gone; the culture of that time that affected them, the cultural movement. All of that, they figured out a way to encompass it in the music they made. That’s what this album is.”
“The last two to three years of my life have taught me a lot about myself as a person; becoming a businessman, getting married, having children, going through a divorce. And there lies a responsibility, an obligation as an artist that I just can’t ignore. Finding a balance between those two places is what ‘Raymond V Raymond’ is all about.”
ON FAN REACTION TO HIS MARRIAGE
“I’m a guy that decided to marry a woman – a black woman – that wasn’t perfect, that had flaws, that through all in all, she’s been successful on her own. … and that’s a bad thing. I decided to marry this woman, then I decide to be a father to my child. And that’s a bad thing. It’s not like I got caught with a gram of coke in my car or speeding or was caught for murder, so why would I be ridiculed, that’s why I don’t understand – that’s the part that is mind boggling. Why would I be ridiculed for that, even a year later?”
ON R&B MUSIC
“The essence of R&B is real experience. It’s based on soul. It’s based on feeling groove and rhythm and a combination of all them coming together to make a piece of magic. It sort of puts artists in a vulnerable place where they’re emotionally drenched, pouring something out, you know. If you think back to Whitney Houston’s earlier days, Aretha Franklin’s earlier days, Bobby Womack’s earlier days, it’s like they were crying to you on records. Sam Cooke, you felt him. James Brown, you felt him. That’s what it is, that’s funk R&B.”