Can you believe that it’s been ten years since the release of Confessions?. I was 17, going on 18 and there was nothing I loved more than music and no artist I loved more than Usher. I have listened over and over again to this album, trying to write this piece and all I can say is ‘Amazing‘. It’s strange how the understanding that this was done ten years ago, sheds a new light to how great Usher was back then and really still is. So I would like to start by saying a big Congratulations to Usher. The impact of this album can really only be truly defined right now at this moment when you can put it in the CD player of your car and reflect and reminiscence on how you felt then and how you feel now, while listening to the album.
Prior to the Confessions album, Usher had not being considered the real deal. Sure, he had had much success with his three prior albums; let’s take a minute to reflect on that actually. Usher was 26 when he released Confessions, which was his fourth studio album. That would have made him 16 when he released his first album Usher, 19 when he released My Way and 23 when he released 8701. So it makes sense now when Usher spits on DJ Khaled’s “Fed Up”, ‘Cause man if I ain’t influenced you, you a liar‘. Still, until Confessions, Usher was considered merely a Pop singer and a better dancer than a voice – all that changed with Confessions.
“Confessions Part II”:
The album Confessions was dubbed by Billboard as the best solo album and second best overall album of the 2000–2009 decade and rightly so. In my opinion, he has not yet since surpassed the accomplishments of the Confessions album. He received twenty five awards for Confessions, compared to none for his following album Here I Stand and the six awards for previous album 8701. The impact then had people considering him to be the subsequent successor to the late Michael Jackson and in 2014, the impact of the success of the album shows how much clout Urban Music still holds in the United States.
At 17, I had a love-hate relationship with this album. This album that will propel Usher to stardom and have critics and fans alike crown him as the real deal was one I struggled with everyday, because in my mind he cheated on T-Boz and used that sad story to make an album. Furthermore, on “Truth Hurts” he seemed to be accusing her of cheating too, how could he do that? OMG! How could he be so wicked. But in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t seem to matter because that album, was and is still awesome. The interesting thing about this album, something I noted then and something I immediately thought of when listening to this again, is the placement of songs which seemed sometimes contradictory.
“Yeah!” which served as the lead single is the Pop/Dance song he was known for, was the first of two subsequent collaborations with Ludacris and Lil Jon and was far different than the subsequent 20 songs on Confessions. On the Just Blaze-produced “Throwback“, you hear him trying to get back with his girl and apologizing for the wrong he did, followed by “Confessions Part I” and “Confessions Part II” and then “Burn“, all produced by Jermaine Dupri. I’ve always wondered why “Burn” didn’t go before the “Confessions” and then “Throwback”. Then we have the Dre & Vidal produced “Caught Up” and “Superstar”, and I think ‘Ok, he’s got a new girl’. But then we have “Truth Hurts” and I’m thinking ‘OK is he accusing the new girl of cheating already? Or is he confessing to cheating again? Damn son!’
Things quickly settle down with some of the best songs I think Usher has ever did, there’s straight sexiness in “Bad Girl“, produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and pure magic in “Follow Me“. My 17-year old mind didn’t fully grasp the hidden messages in “That’s What It Made For” and the challenge in the Robin Thicke-produced “Can U Handle It?” begged to be met, and then there was the gem that served as a bonus track, “My Boo” featuring Alicia Keys, but my all time favorite song on this album still remains “Seduction“, produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The song brings warm fuzzy feeling to mind every time I listen to it.
I never fell in love with Usher’s subsequent albums Here I Stand, Raymond v Raymond and Looking for Myself as I had with the four prior. I hope then that the reflection of that past glory that is Confessions, will make his forthcoming album, due to be released sometime this year, one that I can write about ten years from now.
Usher – Confessions:
Purchase: Usher – Confessions (iTunes)
Words by Neefemi Oyedele