USHER (with Rawiya Kameir)
Music writer and Assistant Professor at Syracuse University, Rawiya Kameir, is back on the show to discuss the career and confessions of the great Usher. DJ Louie and Rawiya break down Usher’s musical origins singing in the church, the failed boy band he fronted in the early ‘90s, Nu Beginnings, and how his deal with the storied LaFace Records and subsequent “flavor camp” with Sean “Puff Daddy’ Combs set the stage for his self-titled debut record in 1994. They then dive into his breakthrough sophomore album, 1997’s My Way, how it solidified Usher’s persona as a smooth, sensitive, emotionally-conflicted lover boy as well as one of the most dexterous R&B singers of his generation, its blockbuster follow up, 2001’s 8701, which furthered Usher’s thematic fascination with the complexities of and distress caused by love and sex and of course, his magnum opus, 2004’s Confessions, a hit-packed concept album about the aftermath of infidelity that sold over 20 million copies worldwide and stands today as Usher’s signature artistic and commercial achievement. Next, Louie and Rawiya debate Usher’s latter period output, from swings at trendiness on 2008’s Here I Stand and 2010’s Raymond Vs. Raymond to more rewarding experiments on 2012’s Looking 4 Myself and 2016’s Hard II Love. Finally they rank Usher in the official Pop Pantheon.