After Michael Jackson, many considered Usher Raymond the next king of R&B. The singer has released over eight albums and dozens of hit songs about life, love, relationships, and everything that comes with in-between, including his own infidelities.
2004’s “Confessions,” one of Usher’s biggest albums, reportedly sold over one million copies domestically in its first week and $15 million by 2006. It won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Album, and still, to this day, fans can’t get enough of tracks like “Yeah” and “My Boo” with Alicia Keys.
However, now the 44-year-old is taking credit for starting the “toxic R&B” era of music and reuniting with those who helped in the process.
In a recent GQ profile, the “U Remind Me” singer admitted “Confessions” changed the meaning and style of R&B music back then.
“The conversation, the music, the entertainment, the dialogue, the energy around it. The toxic R&B of it. Because,” said Usher, who describes his fourth album as “the birth of toxic R&B.”
He added, “Yo, but by the way, toxic was just being honest. It’s how you choose to say it.”
After performing at talent shows and on “Star Search,” Usher was discovered by legendary producer L.A. Reid and signed to his old label LaFace Records, which was later acquired by Arista.
Reid oversaw Usher”s first four albums and sent the then-15-year-old to what he called “Puffy Flavor Camp” in New York City to develop his sound and gain experience while living with Bad Boy CEO Sean Diddy Combs.
According to the outlet, the two fell out over an undisclosed issue after “Confessions” was released, and Reid moved on to Def Jam Records.
“I’m still blown away by ‘Confessions,’ which is the last time that he and I worked together,” said Reid. “It might be the last diamond [R&B] album before streaming took over the world.”
The music vets reunited last year at a dinner in Atlanta with a large group. The “Nice & Slow” singer sparked up a conversation and offered to play a few records for Reid. That moment opened the door for the dynamic duo to work together for the first time in over two decades, but Reid claims Usher’s still the same in the studio.
“He’ll stay behind the mic literally for five, six hours without even a bathroom break. He’ll stand there and sing and sing and sing,” said Reid.
Usher added, “His system is what created that expectation for me, as a young artist. So now, damn near 25 or some odd years later, we feel inspired to go out and create more artists.”
Their full-circle moment has brought the pair back together to form a joint record label with Usher as the first signed artist. But don’t expect his next album to be called “Confessions.”