Parlour Exclusive: Usher, Aged to Perfection

Our boy, ahem, our man, Usher, was in New York recently and Parlour got the chance to kick it with the triple-threat chiseled entertainer. Don’t even try escaping his single “Love In This Club,” and his album, Here I Stand, hits shelves May 27th. With wall-to-wall club joints and slow jams made for quickies, this latest disc should knock as hard as its 2004 predecessor Confessions. But there’s a more mature Usher at its helm. It’s still the same Ursh who used to drop his pants during shows, except he’s married now (for which he’s attracted some hate) and just had his first child, Usher Raymond IV. Along with addressing the haters, Usher also let Parlour in on the mind state of a married man and how he’s getting better with age.

Parlour: Where’ve you been hiding?

Usher: I need you to miss me [he smiles]. If I stay in your face all the time you’ll get tired of seeing me. I went to Broadway (Chicago, the musical), did a movie. I had a label and still do. But when I’m in another area of entertainment I’m missing what I do the most. So I’ll be on stage playing Billy Flynn but singing records that I came up with or doing new dance choreography. Or if I’m on the set and supposed to be in character, I’m somewhere off in the corner singing and dancing.

P: How has your marriage and fatherhood affected your music?

U: This album, to me, is a staple in time. I like to make music about where I am, but I also try to make records that will be like soundtracks to life. So that people will be able to relate to them, maybe one day grow from them, learn, love from ’em. This one particularly is more special than all of the others. I know it sounds cliché to say that! But honestly it’s the pivotal moment for me as an artist, as well as a husband in a way, and a father. These are all new journeys for me, the most meaningful, because they’re the most rewarding.

P: How exactly have you grown?

U: The knowledge that rests in the mistakes slowly but surely become wisdom, so that’s really the process that I’m going through as a man. Where I stand as a husband, as a father, as an individual, as a businessman, is all a testimony to what I’ve been through and where I’ve been.

P: How does “Love in This Club” fit into that?

U: “Love in This Club” is the position that I was in about two years ago and as a result of having that record, there’s a series of events that will happen.

P: Talk about the title track, “Here I Stand.” I heard some things about it…

U: It’s an intimate conversation that a young man has with his woman when he says, “I know it’s hard for you to believe that you’re the only one for me.” This is the set-up before a man says, “I’m standing here with you.”

P: And some of the other tracks?

U: “Something Special” is about the feeling of finding love for the first time. When you finally decide to really take a relationship to the next level and be serious it’s something that you don’t back away from. Even if you try to escape it, you can’t find a way to get out of it. It’s got to be something special. And a lot of times when you find that thing, other people may not believe in it. Other people may be against it. Other people may not understand it. But it’s you and that person against the world, and that’s really the attitude and the position you have to take.

P: Which song do you identify with the most?

U: Well, I identify with all of the records to be honest with you. But “Before I Met You” is one of the songs that I instantly identify with. I’ll just tell you some of the hook: “I was a hustler and a player before I met you. I tricked a little something, hit a little something before I met you. How you made a difference, what I been missing, I got my life together and I’ll thank you forever. I really used to go all out before I met you. Had a new one every night and sometimes I had two. But all of that done changed, my games, my frame of mind you got it right and I’ll love you for life.” It’s what I think a young man is, before he decides to become a real man.

P: Last words?

U: I love my son and I love my wife and they’re the supporting foundation of what I’m doing. I love my fans, I thank y’all so, so much for coming back to the party with me. For all you haters, sorry we back on top. [Laughs] For those of you that doubted it for a minute I’m really sorry for you, but this is definitely going to be a reward for those who’ve been waiting, rooting and supporting and I’m not gon’ let you down. I promise. ~p~

If you like Usher, check out our exclusive interview with John Legend.

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