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 Usher's mom knows she can't beat his ass anymore ...

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 Mr. Entertainment sings about impregnating his mistress ...

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 "I was preparing myself to be married ...

Mother Knows Best: Jonetta Patton Shares Stories About Her Son

 Check out the baby pictures Usher's mom brought us

Usher vs. Justin: Who's Biting Who?

Usher: Souled Out

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"We had a real long conversation why he should do that record," Usher's friend and former A&R rep KP Prather remembered. "He didn't want to take his fans outta their comfort zone with him. We argued about it for about four hours."

"It's still not going nowhere," Jon said of the track. "You gonna keep hearing ['Yeah!'] for the rest of the year."

Confessions itself will undoubtedly be played by Usher fans for the rest of the year as well. With the 11th hour additions to the album pushing it to the place he wanted it to be artistically, Usher delivered a classic LP. He was rewarded by 1.1 million in first-week sales, the highest chart debut ever for an R&B artist.

  "I'm definitely a fan. Usher is a hottie. I don't think there's anybody out there like Usher."
"He's little Elvis right now," Usher's friend Brandy said. "I'm definitely a fan. Usher is a hottie. I don't think there's anybody out there like Usher — he's somebody that's unique, his music is great and he's cute, too. Girls love him. He's got it. And he knows he's got it."

By largely eschewing mushy slow jams and crafting songs about situations that many average guys go through, Usher made an album that the most heartless hooligan can play in his ride or around his boys without feeling corny. It's a record that continues in the Usher tradition of making ladies melt, but more importantly, it's a record that, unlike his past efforts, made people talk. Because he opened up about real experiences, many who have heard the album have a new perspective on Mr. Entertainment. The one-time child prodigy is now one of us.

With Confessions, Usher has made the Big Connection. It's the connection we feel when R. Kelly sings about his woman being fed up. That connection our parents felt when Marvin Gaye sang on the Here, My Dear album. It's the difference between singing with feeling and evoking a feeling, and it's something not many R&B singers do anymore.

"This album is my chance to be real."
"This album is my chance to be real," Usher said during a New York recording session in July 2003. He was working on the track that would stir the most chatter around his LP, "Confessions Part II."

During the July recording session, Usher was strikingly candid, with no rehearsed interview answers or publicists trying to steer the interview. It was just him, producer Jermaine Dupri and a couple of his boys in the studio doing some real talking about everything from Kobe Bryant's sex scandal to the public's fascination with J. Lo to the press being all up in his and his main squeeze Chilli's business.

"I think the industry right now is so watered down with the illusion of entertainment," he said. "Is it really about what's going on in the bedroom with Jennifer Lopez right now? Y'all probably really wanna know that, but come on man, let's really get down to the music. Let's get back to the goodness of it. Let's get back to entertainment. Or is [gossip] what entertainment is? Is that what we want as entertainment?"

As Usher figured out while making his album and setting up his media blitz in advance of it, the public wants a mixture of rumor-mill chitchat and musical mastery. What's a star without some drama?

"You gonna hear some real talk on this album," he said of Confessions while it was still in production. "You gonna hear some things that you might not wanna hear. You gonna hear some things that you'll definitely wanna hear, hopefully it'll give you a heightened perspective of who I am and what I feel as an artist, but hopefully it'll open up the mouths of women and men who can't really say what they wanna say. That's what soul music is — it comes from a real soulful experience. Sometimes the things that hurt you are the things that make you happy."

"People are gonna question [Usher] on a couple of little lyrics."
"We got a couple of records that's leaning toward relationship breakups," Jermaine Dupri said before bursting out into laughter, knowing he just gave a drastic understatement. "People are gonna question [Usher] on a couple of little lyrics. We're really touching on problems that a man and woman have, problems that a man would have with himself. This song we working on now, 'Confessions [Part II],' L.A. [Reid] was like, 'Yo, you gonna have dudes really pissed off at you.' But that's when you know you're touching people, when they're listening to our records and get mad."

Before the night was over, Usher was singing about impregnating his mistress and being torn up inside when he finds out she's three months with child. The theme of cheating has inspired Usher and Dupri so much, they decided to make two parts to "Confessions." "Part I" — which was ultimately left off the album — played in the background while Usher stood at the boards: "Everything that I been doing is all bad ... Going on so long, doing you so wrong ..."

Next: 'I'mma be real with you. I definitely was in the position where I was preparing myself to be married.' ...
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