What Fans of The Voice Should Know About Usher
Not enough people take Usher Raymond IV seriously these days. A long standing icon of 90s r&b, Usher bridged the gap with pop, subsequently ended up as a judge on The Voice, and is now probably better known as the dude with the open mouthed pose in the show's promotional posters on the subway that New Yorkers decided would be hilarious to draw a dick on. It might be easy to write off a guy who has a number in his name, or who released a song with will.i.am called "OMG," but there's so much more to Usher than you might be aware of, or that you forgot all about. Never fear! I'm here to remind you exactly why Usher, at a mere 35 years old, is the r&b icon of our generation, and why you should continue to take him very, very seriously.
He's been at it since he was a kid
After a lot of church singing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Usher's family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, to fully explore his star potential. At age 13 Usher was plucked out of a talent show to audition for LaFace's L.A. Red, who signed him right away. At 16, his first album, the self-titled Usher was released, with producer P.Diddy on board. I'll excuse you for missing this early part of Usher's career — not everyone was paying as much attention to mid-90s r&b as I was. The takeaway is that Usher is an industry veteran, with a solid 20 years of performance and record production under his sexy belt.
His sophomore album, My Way
You will not be excused, however, for not being familiar with Usher's sophomore album, My Way, which was released in 1997 when Usher was all of 19 years old. Mostly written by Usher, Jermaine Dupri, Seal, and Babyface (the latter three also serving as producers on the album) Usher was in better company as a teenager than most artists are in their entire lives. My Way is a six time platinum album in the US, but mostly it's just a great r&b album.
"You Make Me Wanna..."
Usher's first true hit song, "You Make Me Wanna..." is a force of its own, independent of the My Way discography. It's a gold and platinum certified single (Usher's first!), but it's also so self-aware it became definitional for anyone who was a teenager trying to figure out love and relationships in the late-90s. Meanwhile, it's a staple of all hip-hop/r&b playlists because unlike many of its contemporaries, it's absolutely timeless.
Usher has also had a wonderful career in film, appearing in '90s teen staples The Faculty and She's All That. If you ask me, he makes both films the classics they are. Note that he also appears in Light It Up but that I'm not suggesting you watch it, given that I cried uncontrollably through the credits and for about half an hour after they finished rolling when I watched it as a teenager, so tragic is the story. Usher, however, is brilliant.
He dated Chilli
From 2001 to 2003 Usher's main squeeze was Chilli from TLC, which is just bad ass. I mean, Chilli doesn't date scrubs, we know that for sure. She even appeared in his "U Got It Bad" video, which puts Katy Perry and John Mayer's "Who You Love" to absolute shame.
Dude can Dance
Yeah that's right, dance with a capital D. Usher's moves put the Sisqos and Justin Timberlakes of the world to absolute shame, not to mention the Chris Browns (who, let's face it, puts himself to shame on a regular basis). When it comes to pop culture, the ability to dance is often cited as a good reason to take someone seriously (see: the aforementioned shame-monger Chris Brown).