Usher's new musical adventures
Barry C Chung
At the grand old age of 33, Usher may have found his adventurous side. Typically, Usher draws inspiration for his music from 'personal relationships' and 'older musical styles,' he says. Not this time, though. For his latest album, Looking 4 Myself, inspiration came from a whole other source.
'Things that motivated me this time were sounds and music that were very new and indie, like going to the Coachella Festival or to Ibiza,' explains the seven-time Grammy winner. 'I've travelled the world, toured nearly every continent - this phase of my life and my career is very open to exploring.'
The possibility of and openness to exploring has brought out a less known and less developed side of Usher. Looking 4 Myself brings new sounds, most notably of the electro dance variety. There's still R&B here. It's just not your traditional kind.
Usher brought together more than a handful of talented producers and collaborators for his seventh offering, including Salaam Remi, Swedish House Mafia, Pharrell, will. i. am, Luke Steele and Rick Ross. But despite the scope of 'help', at the album's core is still Usher the songwriter and vocalist.
Even with all these big names on board, Usher never loses sight of the larger picture. Looking 4 Myself is an Usher album, and he pushed himself to deliver something worthy of his legacy: not only as a solo artist, but as one who can work with others to create meaningful music.
'I really did exceed my own expectations,' says Usher. 'I proved that I can get with Diplo or Swedish House Mafia and be able to make that connection, make something people would respond to.'
Usher's a mega recording artist who's racked up numerous awards and has sold tens of millions of albums worldwide. At this stage in his career, it would be reasonable for him to be complacent. But he's not. He's always trying to expand his music and take it to the next level. He believes that his two decades in the music industry has led him to Looking 4 Myself, an album that would not have been possible until this stage in his career.
'As a young artist, you live vicariously though others until you have your own experiences,' he says. 'Younger artists might have to go through just doing one thing, like how Picasso had his blue period. But as you grow older, you become able to articulate yourself better - and know what works for you.'