Is Usher the Orson Welles of R&B?
Many moons ago, the legendary actor/director got on the radio with the fictional work "War of the Worlds" and had half his listeners thinking Earth was being invaded by aliens. Now Usher has sung the title track of his latest LP, Confessions, with so much fervor, word going around the rumor mill is that he's actually a baby's daddy.
Newspaper gossip columns are reporting that the love child is the reason TLC's Chilli left Usher, fans have been calling in to radio stations taking sides, and you can guess what they're saying in Internet chat rooms.
On Tuesday afternoon, after a rehearsal for "TRL," Usher said he never anticipated people would be talking this much about the record. But there is one thing that has been lost in the sauce of the chatter: He's nobody's daddy.
"The rumors started shortly after we did a few listening parties [for my album]," Usher said in the "TRL" studios. "The word kinda got out that I had a baby. I did a song, 'Confessions Part II', about a gentleman, a cat that has to confess to his girl that he's got a baby and he hopes she gives him another chance. But I don't have a child [in real life]."
It's easy to see how people could've gotten confused. The singer told MTV News in December: "It wasn't a specific situation that happened in my life right now. In other words, I wasn't in a relationship and got another girl pregnant — right now. But it is something I can relate to and it's something that has happened to me in the past. As I said, I have a few deep, dark ones that I've kept stowed away in a closet for a minute" (see "Usher Lets Skeletons Out Of The Closet On Confessions").
Usher now says he was inspired to write the record by seeing his friends go through similar situations.
"I can't say it happened to me in my most recent relationship," he added. "I have experienced situations like that that have allowed me to pull from my own experience to write the record with Jermaine [Dupri]. But it's just something that I collectively got energy from everybody around me that had been through it."
Still, Usher's real talk caught his longtime friend and collaborator Dupri off guard while they were making the song.
"At first JD was kinda shocked, like, 'Really?' " Usher remembered. "I said, 'Yeah, man, I think that's hot. I think that's hot for us to give something to the fellas.' I always have stuff for the ladies, but this is something that the men. I think they're gonna understand. Especially if they went through it or are going through it. Furthermore, it's great entertainment."
Mr. Entertainment has his sights on having the world talk about more of his music before all is said and done. Outside of working his own album, Usher wants to do more with Beyoncé.
"Beyoncé and me have been talking about doing a record together," he explained about dancing in B's "Naughty Girl" video (see "Beyonce Dances, Flirts With Usher In 'Naughty Girl' Video"). "She reached out to me and said she had an idea and really wanted me to be the lead in her video," the slim singer continued.
"I was like, 'Well let me hear the idea.' It sounded like something totally different than what had been on TV. It kind of paid homage to the past ultimate entertainers: dancers, singers, actors. I felt it opened interest for us to do a movie together or something. We will work together in the future. I think it will be magic. I think it will be the biggest sh-- to ever happen in R&B and pop. F--- pop, I think it will be the biggest thing to happen in music."
For more on Usher, check out the feature "Souled Out."