Usher covers the latest issue of Billboard Magazine. The 33-year-old singer, who is preparing for the role of Sugar Ray Leonard in the Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone with Gael Garcia Bernal and Robert De Niro, must go from 176 pounds to the welterweight of 161 pounds. Besides working on his seventh album, Looking 4 Myself, Usher also got involved in a series of international collaborations such as the one with David Guetta. “Electronic music has given me a new story,” Usher says, “a new opportunity to build something I think a mass audience will understand.”
When it comes to Looking 4 Myself, set to be released on June 12, which is a fusion of electro-soul, old-school R&B and modern club anthems both Usher and his label, RCA, believe that, “It’s all about striving for greatness and offering the best I have. It’s no different than a boxer: Standing in front of the person trying to tear his head off, he has to give his all to make it out of that ring.”
RCA Music Group CEO Peter Edge thinks the album has many potential singles-ones. “We’re putting out ‘Scream’ [produced by Max Martin, who also helmed “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love”] to the pop format worldwide, and at the same time we’re putting out ‘Lemme See’ with Rick Ross, to the album format-that will cover his two key bases right there. By the time the album is available, Usher’s collective audience will have had a chance to really sample a number of songs from the album, which will show the breadth of what he’s presenting,” he says.
On working with hitmaker Diplo, Usher says that, “The cool thing about Diplo and the thing that made me want to work with him is that you can’t put him in a specific category or a box. He does everything. That represents what this album is. This album doesn’t fit into a specific box. It is an all-world experience that gives you a multitude of genres, a multitude of experiences: electric soul, revolutionary pop, classic, new tradition, dance, tech. And it brings me to more of a relevant place.”
Usher’s new manager, Grace Miguel of Coup D’Etat/URIV Group, who also happens to be the singer’s girlfriend, speaks about the new album and says that, “I see this record continuing the artistic journey Usher began the first time he was recognized for fusing sounds with Lil Jon to create ‘Yeah!’. Usher revels in the challenge of expansion and is courageous enough to take risks to grow as a performer.”
Speaking about his management changes, Usher confesses that, “In life we have to grow and one thing that’s been beautiful is that I’ve been able to grow along with my mother and people of my past. They’re proud of me as I move forward, and are able to acknowledge the work I’ve been doing and say, ‘I like what you’re doing, and I like that you’ve been able to pick it up and continue to move on.’”
Read Usher’s full interview in the latest issue of Billboard Magazine.
Photos courtesy of BILLBOARD