Usher’s newly released sixth album, Raymond v. Raymond, entered the U.S. charts at No. 1. It was the R&B megastar’s third chart-topping album in about as many years.
He spoke to Metro on success, fatherhood, and of course the ladies…
You look so sad on the cover of the album — are you okay?
It’s an act! And it’s working quite well since people are intrigued! I’m in good shape, everything is just fine.
Is it difficult to come back after two years on a R&B scene full of artists inspired by you?
Not really. I have nothing to prove as I already have an honored place. Some of the new faces ask me for advice and this is very flattering. If I can be of any help, I do it with pleasure.
Is that what happened with Justin Bieber?
The first time I heard him I was blown away, and when I learned he was only 16, I was staggered. He’s very talented, ambitious and afraid of nothing. I helped him of course, but I know for sure he would have managed to make a name anyhow.
You went through a highly public divorce but you don’t talk about it in your songs — why not?
I learn from my mistakes, and if a person doesn’t want his private life to be written in every single magazine, he sure shouldn’t talk about it in his songs.
Did becoming a father change things?
To a certain extent, yes. Being a father influences your entire life. I grew up. I’m a man, a father. I’m not the young guy obsessed with the way he looks like I was when I started.
This is the second album since the birth of my son, and I think I became more and more demanding. I want him to know how deeply he changed my life.
But you still go to night clubs, smoke cigars and dance with the ladies — you didn’t change that much, did you?
It is true I still love good things, but I work my art differently today. I’m more focused on my voice, which always was my trump card. Anyway, I’m a good dancer, it’s quite normal to show that to my public.
You released some tracks on the Internet before the album came out — why?
The music industry has changed a lot since I started. Today, you can listen to any album for free online or even download them illegally. Only real enthusiasts still continue to buy albums, because they know that the sound is better, that you will have pictures or art and that you can support your favourite artist this way.
You cried a lot during Michael Jackson’s funeral — how did it affect you?
The day of his death was the worst day of my life. I’ve had to go through hard stuff before, but nothing hurt me more than learning he was dead. I thought I would die. I always felt connected to him. It is still difficult to talk about it. The world lost one of its greatest geniuses of all time.