Living up to the name "Mr. Entertainment" means being able to shake your thing from the window to the wall and hold it down on the set of a movie — among other things. While Usher has triumphed in many aspects of showmanship, he doesn't want people to forget why they started feeling him in the first place: his singing.
"[With] this one, I just really wanted to be about my vocal ability," Usher explained, enlightening a room full of reporters after his performance at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans last weekend. "I wanted to make real music. I feel like soul music, R&B music is somewhat in jeopardy. It's in trouble right now. If I can make a contribution to R&B, then that's what I'll do."
The originator of the "U-Turn" dance said Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes and Babyface are among the producers he plans to work with. Usher has already recorded in Atlanta with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as Andre Harris and Vidal Davis (Michael Jackson). The 24-year-old wants to take his song-making back to the essence.
"If you go back to what R&B is, or what soul really is, I think the work ethic is way down," he huffed, calling out some of his fellow artists. "You look at the videos, you see women shaking their ass, you see the cars, you see the 22s. It's really marketing, if anything. It's not real music; that sh-- don't make me move. I'm trying to get back to that. I wanna get back to where it's really about the performance.
"Where I come from and how I was raised was to really understand music," he added. "It's past just a hit record — it's about the performance. You gotta find a way to get it, so I'm gonna do that with my album and hopefully set the trend and continue to keep it going."
The heartthrob who does it all estimated that the first single from his still-untitled album will be out October 13, with the LP following November 18.