Usher Comes Back For His Crown: A VMA Cheat Sheet

The 'OMG' singer overcame personal drama and proved his staying power on the charts over the past year.

Usher has reigned as Pop & B royalty since he hit the scene as a teen crooner in the ’90s. Back when his 16-year-old protégé, Justin Bieber, was still a toddler, the ATL singer was making the ladies faint with hits like “You Make Me Wanna” and “Nice & Slow.” But his early success was just a prelude to the music-world domination he’s achieved with club bangers and deeply personal slow jams in the years since.

Usher’s divorce from Tameka Foster was the latest personal development to fueled his 2010 chart-topping album Raymond v. Raymond. Now the singer is set to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards , and his smash “OMG” will battle it out for a Moonman in three categories: Best Male Video, Best Dance Video and Best Choreography. Here’s a look at how the singer’s recent success has steered him toward VMA accolades:

Following the release of the divorce-themed “Papers,” his more upbeat video “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home)” premiered in January 2010. The clip followed the romantic superstar as he tried to juggle the demands of his professional and personal life.

In March, Usher talked to MTV News about incorporating that balance into Raymond Vs. Raymond. “I think this is the one time where I’m able to put it all in, emotionally and the good times — super-freaky and then also super-emotional.”

So, it wasn’t a big surprise that when Raymond Vs. Raymond finally landed on shelves after several delays, it landed at #1 on the Billboard 200 with over 300,000 scans during its first week.

He went from romantic to racy, busting out his signature, fluid, hip-swiveling moves in the video for “Lil Freak,” featuring Nicki Minaj . The star didn’t hold back in the visuals or the lyrics, which both detail a freaky rendezvous with some very game ladies. Usher revealed that this track, like many of his other hits, was inspired by real-life experiences.

The club anthem “OMG” featured Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am and revealed the R&B kingpin’s more club-friendly side. The accompanying video showcased Usher’s easy swagger and ever-sharp dance skills.

Raymond was such a hit that in August the singer released Versus, an extension of the smash album featuring songs like the Jay-Z collabo “Hot Tottie.”

Usher, who has a history of tearing up the VMA stage , will return to the main event this year. He recently reminded his fans that live television paired with his onstage wizardry can result in some seriously unforgettable moments. “You never know what’s gonna happen on an MTV VMA stage,” he said. “I look forward to making it a night to remember.”

The star has also made one of the most savvy moves in recent pop music history by signing teen phenom Bieber , who has gone on to induce global tween hysteria and set YouTube records .

The 27th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on September 12. The party starts with MTV News’ VMA Pre-Show at 8 p.m., followed by the main event at 9 p.m. ET.