Usher sat down for an exclusive “MTV First” interview about his hotly anticipated upcoming release, Looking 4 Myself, his unconventional album-listening experience with the off-Broadway show “Fuerza Bruta” and to give fans a first listen to the Myself track “Twisted” featuring Pharrell. He told MTV News’ Sway Calloway the song is a “nostalgic record” that reflects the album’s ambitious aim to represent the variety of musical experiences that have impacted the R&B superstar.
” ‘Twisted’ is more of a nostalgic record, so when you think about the classic R&B record, we managed a way to modernize it, even though that’s very relevant,” the singer said. “You hear records like Cee Lo, you hear Bruno Mars and also Andre 3000, and that sound is very relevant in this time. So this was kind of our way to tie it all together and give you something different that you probably wouldn’t normally get from me.”
Adapting current sounds and making them his own is a theme Usher is bringing in earnest to Looking 4 Myself and also reflects his philosophy of how to stay in the game. The star released his self-titled debut in 1994, when he was just 16, and has gone on to sell over 65 million records worldwide and score nine #1 songs and six more top 10 hits.
As for how he’s managed to stay on top for so long, Usher revealed that it’s important to never be insular when it comes to music. “Life is a workout, man, it’s like a treadmill, and you gotta be with it, you gotta just stay with it,” he said. “For me, I’ve had the fortunate ability to always be mindful of other things and other people. I’m not so caught up in what I’m doing that I can’t be cognizant of what other people enjoy. … Now, I think music should be used as a channel to really allow people to have different experiences. So, this album is all about bottling up those different experiences.”
The connecting tissue that’s given Usher the ability to explore world music — from full-on dance tracks like his new single “Scream” and his collaboration with David Guetta, “Without You,” to more classic R&B slow jams like “Climax” and the old-school spare drum beat of “Twisted” — while delivering cohesive records has been his voice, which he said brings “the essence of soul and emotion” to each record.
“All of my career is kind of an unveiling, an unfolding story, and it ain’t done. There’s so much more that I’m going to do, so much that I’ve now just been interested in and been introduced to,” he continued. “I just want that experience of having this very monogamous relationship with entertainment and acting in a way where I can really, really focus and become better.”
Usher’s commitment to tackling the changing face of music head-on and forging new roads in entertainment as he matures — he is currently training for a Sugar Ray Leonard biopic — is the key to his success, he said, concluding, “It’s all about evolution for me.”
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