NEW YORK — All Usher had to do to find inspiration for his new album was go hang out. Before diving into the recording process he’s been in for the past two and a half months, the singer says he found time in his “25-hour” workdays to visit cities around the country.
“From L.A. to Maine to New York, back to Atlanta,” he said with a smile in Right Track studios Tuesday night (July 22). “We just keep the energy going to pick up a little something from everybody. We’ve been going everywhere to get a little bit of different energy. We want to understand what’s going on in Houston. We wanna know what’s going on in D.C. We feel what’s happening in Miami. We want a little bit of California love. That’s the objective in moving around so much.”
On Tuesday night Usher was stationary; waiting for Jermaine Dupri to return so they could finish up work on a track called “Confessions.” Besides his work with Dupri, the singer has churned out tracks with the Neptunes, Rich Harrison (Beyoncé), Pied Piper (B2K) and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
“I got R. Kelly working on this record,” said Usher, who is racking up more writing credits on this LP than he has on previous albums. “Magic, man. The best of the same world.”
Besides teaming with Kelly, Usher has something else in common with Jay-Z. They both want Prince on their next album.
“There’s been a lot of talk,” Usher explained. “I been in New York talking to a few different people. I don’t like to throw too many names out there and get you motivated, but I’ve talked to Ashanti, Irv Gotti. I’ve been talking to Stevie Wonder. He’s one of the people I’ve always wanted to work with. [I want to] have him play something on this record. I reached out to Prince. I’d love to have Prince on this record. Thus far nothing is concrete.”
What’s even shakier is the relationship Usher describes in a ballad he started playing, tentatively called “Confessions.”
“You got a girl and you got a chick on the side,” he detailed over his singing. “One day you decide you want to confess. You want to take your relationship to the next level, so you gonna tell the truth. That’s really what this album is ultimately about: real talk. That’s one of the names [I'm considering for] the album.”
“The last album … was so crazy,” Dupri, who produced “Confessions” and “Confessions Part 2,” chipped in later. “People was really feeling it. My goal is to try to capitalize on that sound because that’s his sound. It’s been proven. People really love him when he makes them records. So we trying to make records that’s really touching. We got another song called ‘Let It Burn’ that everybody is thinking is the second single. I think ['Confessions'] might be the second single. We on that page to make sure we capitalize on the Usher sound.”