Usher established himself as one of the pop greats long ago, but according to a longtime friend and creative partner, the singer is only getting better as an artist.
"He's in a great place, and sonically, he's sounding the best he's ever sounded," Rico Love told MTV News last week. "But he always gets better vocally with each album. I always noticed that about him."
Fans can catch Usher these days as a coach on "The Voice," but when he isn't guiding young vocalists, he's been in the studio chipping away at his upcoming eighth studio album. Considering his history with Rico, it was only right that they connect on the new LP.
"Got in the studio with Usher, we did some really amazing records -- really amazing records," Love said. "Me and Usher are really like brothers. Me and Usher will fight, we'll beef and won't speak for a while."
Rico earned writing credits on Usher's 2004 diamond-selling Confessions LP and has since penned singles like "Hey Daddy" and "There Goes My Baby," but it's the pair's new collaborations that have Love most excited. After a brotherly spat, which Rico didn't elaborate on, the old friends resolved their issue and got into the studio to "make history."
"We got in the studio and made something very amazing; we've been speaking every day since," Love continued. "And that's, like, my real family -- he put me on. Usher gave me my opportunity. I always say, 'It's God and Usher who are responsible for my career.' "
Since logging in those first few sessions with Usher 10 years ago, Rico has grown as a songwriter, working with stars like Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Diddy and Wiz Khalifa. Now Love's establishing himself as an artist with his Discrete Luxury EP, though he'll always find time to work with the man he credits with giving him his start.
"It's always a good time when I'm in the studio with Usher, but we really did some classic sh--," he boasted. "Everybody says that, but I feel like I've earned the right to be able to say that and [have] it mean something."