He's known as one of the smoothest R&B sensations to grace the stage, but when [artist id="1270"]Usher[/artist] was 17, he grappled with a far less flattering image.
"I went through this phase where I had really, really bad acne," the singer admits on the latest episode of "When I Was 17," premiering Saturday at 11 a.m. Usher, who was 17 in 1995, reveals with a grin that his nickname was "Pizza Face."
"His acne was so horrible," recalled one of Usher's more blunt friends, Keith. "His face was so jacked up."
Music mogul and producer Jermaine Dupri remembered how the entertainer's spotty complexion led him to shy away from the spotlight.
"He didn't want to go out. He wanted to stay in," Dupri says. "He was a little ashamed of what was going on with his face."
The singer went to extreme, and ultimately unsuccessful, lengths to disguise his breakouts.
"As a dude, you're not gonna put makeup on your face, right?" Usher said. "I tried that, it didn't even work."
He may have experimented with cosmetics and spent a few more nights at home but the multiplatinum star didn't let his acne hold him back from wooing the ladies. "I was 17, so I would still try to talk to girls [and] get past it," Usher reasoned.
He even had some smooth lines to drop when he wanted to draw attention away from his skin. " 'Don't look at that, look at my eyes, baby. I'm trying to say something real serious to you right here,' " Usher recalled, reenacting his complexion-deflecting dating moves. "I know I have pizza face, I don't care."
In the end, his skin cleared up and the singer said it was just a matter of riding out a rite passage that many teens are forced to endure.
"This is something that all 17-year-olds have to deal with," Usher said. "You can't run away from it."
"When I Was 17" — this week featuring B.o.B, Usher and Ne-Yo — premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. on MTV