For more than over a decade, the title of R&B King has rightfully belonged to R. Kelly. Many would argue that several of his albums have left fans unsatisfied because it failed to meet the standards of some of his more classic ones; but there is no arguing that Twelve Play and TP-2 were unquestionably two of the greatest R&B albums of all time.
Combine that with some hit songs from his collaboration effort with Jay-Z on Best of Both Worlds and hit singles such as Fiesta, I Believe I Can Fly, Trapped in the Closet and Same Girl to name a few, and well the title is unquestionably his.
And yet, Kellz was dangerously close to having his R&B championship belt stolen from him when a young artist from Atlanta stepped onto the scene and took the world by storm not only with his vocals but also his smooth dance moves.
Looking back, much like R. Kelly, Usher made it cool for men to bump slow jams in their walkmans and Ipods. He took the music and rolled with it, slowly allowing us to get inside his own life and relate with some of his very own experiences. The fact that he was able to do so and dance his ass off made it all the more appealing.
Ursh knew how to keep the masses entertained with radio and club friendly hits like Yeah, but he could also pour his soul on wax and detail his inner conflict on a song like Confessions; where fans should have clearly seen him as the bad guy that epitomized everything wrong about the male species, and yet we sympathized with the artist more than anything as he openly spoke about his indiscretions and the baby that resulted of it.
He was that good.
He could address any topic and come out looking like the guy you wanted your sister to marry. For instance, on You Remind Me, Usher is essentially talking to a woman that he clearly seems to like and that he could potentially have feelings for. She’s a step ahead of the pack and clearly has all the physical features that he seems to appreciate. The one issue with her though is that her behavior is far too reminiscent to one of his old flames that shred his heart to pieces.
Logic would dictate that he give her a chance and find out if she is the one for him, but when matters of the heart are involved, the use of reason is rarely an option. Hence, our singer chooses to focus his attention elsewhere and move on from her despite never truly giving her a chance.
And yet, the magic of Usher was that he could be the quirkiest man in one song and then switch things around and exhibit all of his bravado and talk up his game on songs like Dot Com; but then reverse course and allow the woman to court him as seen on Trading Places.
Consequently, he held a certain appeal that very few could match in light of their character flaws as well as their past transgressions.
And then, he done messed things up. For lack of a better term, Ursh went pop on us. Commercial songs, radio-friendly singles that sacrificed some of the essence and soul of his music. It felt as though his songs no longer came from the heart and that they instead came and went straight to his wallet. As a fan, I was disappointed and figured that the ship had sailed and that his shot at the R&B throne had all but evaporated.
And then the Atlanta artist dropped Climax.
This was Usher essentially saying “POW!” to all those who had forgotten the sheer brilliance of his talent.
The song is quite basic and barely overwhelms; but it’s still Usher at his best. On the song, he is as confused as ever (big surprise for Ursh, I know), going back and forth on his relationship that has essentially met its expiration date. There is still a friendship there as well as some residual feelings, but for all intents and purposes, the union is over; but Usher is thinking out loud about his lover’s concerns as well as how he should digest it all.
On Climax, the singer hits some high notes and impresses with his vocal cords as well as a smooth melody that he just seems to ride thanks in large part to an ear-pleasing beat that just blends in perfectly.
Granted, one song is far from enough to reclaim the top spot in the game, but Usher may in fact be on his way back…