Usher Raymond: “Good Kisser”…Or Just Somebody’s Crackhead Uncle? » VSB

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Usher Raymond: “Good Kisser”…Or Just Somebody’s Crackhead Uncle?


I used to have a jovial, Black ass uncle who, plump with Taco Bell chalupas and cheap beer and potential, could walk into a Klan rally held in conjunction with Paula Deen’s White Power Summit and leave with eight new White Grummaws and two dozen invitations to Thanksgiving.

Jovial Uncle graduated high school at the top of his class. He served in the Army, dated a string of non-dumpy, employed White girls, and became a skilled boxer. His smile and laugh could warm the frigid heart of the most miserable, jaded, and underpaid freelance writer. We were just always so happy for and proud of Jovial Uncle. Everybody loved this dude, even the White Dads of these non-dumpy White girls, so you know.

And then Jovial Uncle met crack. And lost it all. Even the White girls. He went from baller and shot caller to the most depraved Chief Keef aspirant ever. And, well, think: David Ruffin. Trainwreck. Ain’t nobody proud of Jovial Uncle these days.

Okay, so look. I made Jovial Uncle up. Fight me. But the rise and DMXing of Hypothetical Jovial Uncle is akin to what it has been like watching and hearing Usher chase Dancing Dandelion through the Land of ElectroTrash Relevancy these past few years.

F*cking Cassie MTV Unplugged live taping bad.

Usher Beyonce’d the game when he dropped Confessions in 2004. He (and the FCC) even kept Saint Damita Jo from a number one album, but I have grown mature enough to overlook his part in the matter. He had all of your cousins trying to put wheels on the bottom of their Air Force Ones as they listened to Chingy while wearing their True Religion jeans. He had it.

That was the time before and after his stint as Chilli’s Number One Baby Hair Swooper and Looper, thank you very much. After that loss, he moved on, married, divorced, and had two sons who would, unfortunately, be indoctrinated into Mohawk-wearing at an early age by their Mohawk-wearing Dad. Thus: Raymond vs Raymond. There were signs.

Somewhere along the way, he stumbled. Usher had a moment. Perhaps he inherited a windfall of White friends. Perhaps he met a Hypothetical Jovial Uncle of his own and, as his life derailed, he spiraled into collecting glow sticks and bad electronic beats. Only pumpernickel-hued Jesus knows. Whatever the culprit, his music became befuddlingly shitty for a few trying years and I ultimately charged it to the game. And then.

Life for many fans of R&B Usher ain’t been no crystal stair for some time now. I rooted for him when I heard “There Goes My Baby.” I even humped someone to “Climax” though the bulk of that album being a dumpster juice smoothie of terribleness. I tried to stick around with Usher through his Hypothetical Jovial Uncle moments. But watching him tap dance between trends, following Chris and Trey and that Bieber f*ckboy, short of breath while dancing in his leather pants, through life? That was enough. I wrote him off as Bionicera Aguileran-level trash.

Dude can actually sing. And dance. And while he is no longer 22 and should accept that perhaps he can no longer do those two things simultaneously, he’s still good despite the zigzagged head and cheetah print jeggings.

So, I don’t know if he tired of dressing up as Gumby-Haired ElectroNigger these last few albums or what, but he appears to have found his way again. It may be entirely too premature to speak with certainty, but I’m going to hope that his new single and video, “Good Kisser,” is the start of his 2014 Human Being Nicki Minaj phase.

Honesty time: I was quite hesitant to press play. I try not to invite tragedy into my life, you know.

Usher looks and moves less like the uncool uncle he’s been portraying for a while and more like, pre-gas fume music Usher. Thankfully, the video’s choreography isn’t so over-the-top that he won’t be able to perform it while keeping his dignity in tact. I’m hopeful that there was a big “Okay Let’s All Be Very Honest With Usher” meeting.

His yet untitled album is said to feature production from Pharrell, Jermaine Dupri, and Diplo. Hopeful. Oh. Also present on the album? Skrillex. So, perhaps his personal Jovial Uncle is still somewhere close by luring Usher to the dark side with candy and free bad haircuts. But again, I’m hopeful. I’m gonna keep the faith that he was able to wean himself off that Oppressor Music.


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Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at


    Usher was the first musician/singer I remember liking. I used to sing My Way alllllllllllllllll the time and was with him up until 8701. Around 2004 when confessions dropped (and even a little before then actually) my music tastes drastically shifted so I lost my investment as THE R&B dude over a decade ago before his major R&B album dropped so him going techno/pop doesn’t bother me because he’s not that dude in my playlist anymore. I’ll give his music a listen just for the Skrillex track though.

  • Namia

    Interesting take.simillar to the way I feel about Mariah..Artists with voices..should stick to singing what worked for them most and not try out what is current

    • Msdebbs

      I can’t listen to any thing Mariah pre-2000 all her music after that is str8 garbage.

      • Val

        Vision of Love is really the only song I like by her and that was her first hit. I don’t even think I could name another one.

        • Msdebbs

          Aint none!

        • We all know your tastes in music. If they aren’t dressed like they are on their way to a NAACP luncheon after working on their craft for 15 years under Julliard trained musicians, then they are beneath your refined musical palate.

          • Michelle

            Well….D*mn. LOL!

          • Val

            You are a stalker.

          • Instagram Model

            Todd, stop it! This made me LOL!

      • IcePrincess

        The lies you tell!! “We belong together” is garbage? No m’am.

        • Msdebbs

          Okay IP I’ll give you that one. She had a few decent singles but that Glitter album is when her career started dying.

          • IcePrincess

            Yea, glitter was some bullsh*t that was during her nervous breakdown or whatever, so I’m giving her a pass on that one lol

        • It’s a R&B/pop song produced by Jermaine Dupri- it’s garbage…

    • This is something Toni Braxton should have done a long time ago!

    • @Ms. Namia:
      I agree; in fact, given Mariah Carey’s outsized and highly unusual talent as a singer, being able to achieve things with her voice the vast majority of female singers cannot, one wonders why she hasn’t capitalized on that more as she has aged. She can easily enjoy the kind of “mature” success as singers like, say, Lalah Hathaway, if she worked at it.



    • Mariahs voice been gone since Mimi was emancipated tho

      • Been. Gone. It’s over.

        • “I used to have a jovial, Black a$$ uncle who, plump with Taco Bell chalupas and cheap beer and potential, could walk into a Klan rally held in conjunction with Paula Deen’s White Power Summit and leave with eight new White Grummaws and two dozen invitations to Thanksgiving.”

          Great first line, sir. Although, I spent most of the piece salty there was no actual Jovial Uncle. I rather liked Taco Bell chalupas myself before a student of mine ate a screw in his Taco Bell and became septic.

          Or maybe that was just an elaborate absence excuse…

          • SuperStrings

            “Although, I spent most of the piece salty there was no actual Jovial Uncle.”
            Me too!!!

        • Sigma_Since 93
  • Why can’t these 90’s musicians accept their mortality? Like, stop. You’re older. You’re no longer 22. Let the new kids on the block dance around with no shirts while you sit at the piano with an adult haircut and sing a nice tune about life after the party because last call for alcohol was 20 years ago bruh.

    ETA: This whole 40 is the new 16 wave needs to end.

    • Abhorsen

      Yeah,i agree. It gets to a time where you have to be the Elder Statesman and leave the theatrics to the young ones.

      • Why is this even considered the direction his “music” needs to be taking? I want Usher to come out with an album talking about exposed brick lofts with lots of natural lighting, high ceilings and what it’s like to be married and subsequently divorced.

        • Abhorsen

          That won’t happen any time soon in my opinion. It takes complete disengagement from fans to force artistes to accept their era is up and they have to tone it down. Look at Jlo,shes still jenny from the block lol. Usher was a symbol,getting panties wet.It’s hard to let that persona go.

          • I think it’s easier for female artists to maintain that facade of eternal youth because their entire image is based around chex and youthfulness. Men however, they just look like that super senior in college who was still trying to be down. Wrap it up Usher. No one cares. Idk if his actual fans from the My Way era are even listening to him these days.

            • Abhorsen

              Careful,you are on VSB. 90s rule here,lmao. But you may have a point,Mariah and Bey are still on the youth potion

              • And anyone who came up in that era who is going to try and argue me down about Usher being relevant in 2014 needs to have a moment of self reflection to reconsider their current lifestyle.

                • Abhorsen

                  There will be takers to that challenge. May the force be with you

                • Msdebbs

                  He can make a come back….look at Betty White.?

                  • Like I said, he can make a come back once he stops pandering to my generation. We aren’t checking for New Usher.

                    • Msdebbs


                    • Val

                      Is Usher even 30 yet?

                    • Msdebbs

                      yea 35

                    • Val

                      Wow, I had no idea he was that old. I guess he seems younger because he started his career when he was so young?

                    • He just needs to host American Idol or something if he’s trying to keep the checks rolling. No one wants to hear him unless it’s his old albums.

                    • Msdebbs

                      He’s a judge on the Voice….which I think is a little bit more entertaining than idol.

                    • He’s been around for a long time- 21 years in fact. He was only fifteen when he put out his first and one of two of his best albums (The other one being “8701”).

                      Here’s his first ever music video from 1993:


                    • Abhorsen

                      Back when everyone wore baggy gear and LA was busy introducing the world to Crips and Bloods

                    • Or…back when everyone wore bright colors in the daytime, LMAO!!!

                    • Abhorsen

                      That ish was crazy,red and yellow checkered shirts,baggy pants and boots.

                    • This is proof that Usher has matured as an artist. Dude has flipped things up a few times since this came out.

                      ETA: And the Janet Jackson box braids are making a comeback. I saw 5 different girls on my bus rocking the same braids. *smh*

                    • Most things from the 90’s do NOT need to make a comeback- that is one of them!

                    • I seen a new ninja with a Rhythm Nation style hat….Janet lives.

                    • IcePrincess

                      Why u shakin your head? Those braids are pretty.

                    • Keeping it 100, it was bland the first time around. Why bring that back?!

                    • Good for a protective style that’ll last 2-3 months :-) also, less of a hassle, versatile, the possibility with braids is endless!! Not to mention black women with braids = G O D E S S

                    • Why is this a “new thing”? Girls have stayed rocking micros, box braids, etc. every year around my way.

                    • Um…he really hasn’t been checking for the youth since the Raymond vs. Raymond album. Maybe you “like” Usher the same way Val “likes” Beyonce.

                    • @Ms. AfroPetite:
                      You know, you make a very goood point; I think someone who has done what you’ve suggested, is American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. I listened to a recent new album he put out, that’s basically a cover of all the R&B “slow jam” standards – you know, Luther, et al. He does a duet with Lalah Hathhaway on one of them, “If This World Were Mine”, I think. Very nice, very mature, very comfortable in its own skin. But then, Studdard is a different kind of singer from Usher…which raises real questions as to whether Usher CAN do such a thing.



                    • “Which raises real questions as to whether Usher CAN do such a thing.”

                      I don’t think he can. Usher has always erred on the side of pop. Heavy producing, good enough vocals to keep him R&B-friendly, but not the richness and tonality that would catapult him into vocal legend.

                    • @Ms. Dtafakari:
                      Speaking of which, another (male) singer I’m a huge fan of, is Mr. Will Downing. Very classy dude.


                    • Well if that’s the case, then there should be a new genre called soft-pop or something. Usher trying to be Pitbull isn’t going so well.

                    • Stahp. Usher’s vocal “limitations” are completely due to his producers. JD never gave him the avenue to show off his full range, that man can SANG. This is why I hate Jermaine as an R&B producer, he’d have us thinking that’s all Mariah can do when we KNOW better.

                    • TheOtherJerome

                      And how did that album do? Flop i believe

              • Val

                Have you seen Mariah lately? She’s at her plastic surgery limit. Any more and she’ll look like Joan Rivers.

                • Abhorsen

                  No i have not. Is it that bad lol.

                  • Val

                    She’s on the edge of looking like she’s had too much surgery. If she stops now she’ll be okay.

                • I honestly am so thankful I don’t have to live with unrealistic expectations about aging due to me being out of the public eye on a grand scale.

                  • Val

                    True, AP, but, it’s kind of their own fault. If you start out using your looks to sell music then you’re setting a trap for yourself.

                    • Msdebbs

                      This might sound haterish but eff it when is Rihanna’s career gonna die?? She has no talent but she’s so damn gorgeous.

                    • Val

                      I think her career is largely based on her persona as the give no fcuks girl. So she might be around for a bit.

                    • When she reaches 30 years old, that’s when it will happen- trust me on this.

                    • Rihanna will be dethroned by a Rihanna, they’re like Highlanders

                    • Kozy

                      In that there can only be one? hmm…

                    • SuperStrings

                      I’d say Mariah used her voice to sell her music on that first album though.

                    • Val

                      I agree. It wasn’t until later that she went with the sexy image.

                  • Abhorsen

                    Forever young i wanna be forever young

                  • Val

                    Me too, that must be a certain kind of he\ dealing with that.

                    • I can only imagine. Especially with a constant influx of new blood coming up. This pressure to be youthful in that circle is ridiculous.

                    • Abhorsen

                      Pretty hurts

                    • IcePrincess

                      Tell me about it *flips hair*

                • Msdebbs

                  She needs to slow down on the meaty gravy too.

                  • Val

                    Lol. I saw her on Letterman recently and I was like wow her face is so fat. I think she’s going to be doing a Weight Watchers campaign soon. That’s the only reason I could think of that someone as vein as she seems would be out and about looking like that.

                    • Msdebbs

                      Wait I thought she was already on weight watchers???

                    • Val

                      If so then it’s not working for her. Lol

                  • Sigma_Since 93

                    Nick out here having heart palpitations trying to cover Mariah’s overhead costs.

                • IcePrincess

                  Lmfao @ plastic surgery limit

            • “I think it’s easier for female artists to maintain that facade of eternal youth because their entire image is based around chex and youthfulness.”

              Not true. Madonna started making changes to her career and her image when she started getting over the hill.

              • She’s one of the few exceptions though. Of course every female artist who has graced the planet isn’t going to fit the mold. I’m not that naive.

        • “and what it’s like to be married and subsequently divorced.”

          He did- almost… (See: “Raymond Vs. Raymond”- it’s safe to say we aren’t getting a “Here My Dear” from him, no matter how many times he says he worships Marvin Gaye, LOL!)

        • Rachmo

          I’m not going to lie. I would really like him to make music I can relate to in some way, shape, or form.

          • I know you are. I am too.

          • Yoles

            i really, really LOVED “here i stand”
            i have no idea what album, what year, if it was even on an album but i love that song.. my favorite usher song …

            • Rachmo

              That was my jam. Bc I’m a huge sap.

            • It was on his album of the same name “Here I Stand” from 2008. The song was produced by Jazzy Jeff’s protégés Andre Harris & Vidal Davis (They also produced “Superstar” and “Caught Up” on “Confessions”). Back in the day, they used to do stuff for Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild earlier in their career. I know they did “The Way” for Jill Scott, though.

              Side note: Rell from Roc-A-Fella wrote that song- yep, that guy…

              • DJ Jazzy Jeff has the Moon in Librra, aligning with Usher’s Libran Sun; born on Jan 22, 1965 in Philly…


      • Sahel, that’s kinda hard to do when an artist’s whole career is based on theatrics.

        *Looks at R. Kelly*

        • Abhorsen

          There comes a time when you can’t rely on theatrics, It happens to all of us famous or not. Nicki has realized it and is toning it down R.Kelly will vanish into oblivion if he tries too keep it up.The only genre that allows theatrics past 35 is Rock

          • Honestly, R. Kelly should have vanished around 2000- I thought the s*x tape incident would have killed his career off, but he kept going, LOL!

            • Abhorsen

              What happened to Maya though.

              • Mya’s making music for the Japanese market. She released a couple of albums over there. Over the years, I’ve heard that Japan and England are very supportive of R&B acts over 35.

                • Abhorsen

                  England yes

                  • A lot of veteran R&B acts tour over there- I know Alexander O’Neal is very active over there. It’s kind of sad really. If you look at it, half of the reissues of R&B albums from the 80’s and a few obscure ones from the 70’s were remastered and reissued on British based labels. Even Tabu Records’ catalog and brand were acquired by a British based company. That speaks volumes about how R&B in America is viewed at large- as “for the moment” type of music.

                    • Abhorsen

                      Does the US have dedicated channels that cater to the older half of the people..

                    • Yeah- on the radio, it’s the urban adult contemporary stations. On TV, it’s Centric and VH1 Soul.

                    • Agreed. And don’t get me started on how Rock looks like R&B. They seem to view ALL R&B through the same teenybopper lens. As a result, very few R&B acts are recognized as talent, but rather as creators of their producers who are the “real” auteurs writing the music and creating the image. Though personally, it just comes off like high-falutin’ racism.

                    • This subject would require its own separate post- and also, people who actually listen to music.

                    • Excellent point. Instead of looking at teen pop as derivative of R&B, rock music types threw ALL R&B into that, with the thinking that if the music can be so easily dumbed down, it can’t be good. Every time I read a Rock critic not named Jody Rosen, George Wallace’s “Segregation Now” speech pops into my head.

                    • Ironically, most of the rock musicians they know and love were clearly inspired by R&B and were very open to admitting it. For them to not make that connection speaks volumes about their knowledge of music.

                    • I think it’s connected back to the time in the 60s when the R&B chart and the main Top 40 charts was merged for a few years. I think a lot of White people felt some type of way about it and tried to, like Rush Limbaugh said, stand up for White music. Between the British Invasion, which was used to scrub the Black influences from Rock, Punk music which somehow defined all music not created by either White males or White male approved acts as “corporate” and the rise of MTV (run by a White guy by Mississippi), you have a lot of White music fans brainwashed as to where there music comes from. As “progressive” as these fans claim to be, they’d rather kill themselves than admit that their sense of style comes from Black people.

                    • Let’s not forget about Disco Demolition Night at that baseball game, which was also a byproduct of that as well.

                • I agree. R&B isn’t as big in those 2 places, but the scenes there tend to be dominated by crate-digger types. As a result, it’s probably harder for a new group to blow up there, because they’d rather listen to someone who established themselves in the US.

                  • Which is why a lot of British R&B acts tend to have bigger success in America.

                    • Excellent point. I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.

                    • Look at Marsha Ambrosius- famous over here…couldn’t get arrested over there, LOL!

            • LehcarB

              I think if we’re calling anyone a Jovial Uncle first we must address R.Kelly

              • If you ask me, he seems very eager to cater to a younger audience- but we all know why…

            • I don’t know who does R. Kelly’s PR, but they are geniuses. Once he flipped it up with the Grown and $exy stuff, he managed to get people checking for him again. I am thoroughly impressed by his team. I’m struggling to think of anyone else who reinvented themselves that smoothly.

              • There are quite a few of them- here’s a hint…they are the ones still around.

                • Ain’t none of them do anything like get after kids or something like that. That’s what makes R. Kelly so amazing.

                  • R. Kelly is a one-dimensional artist and a lot of his stans will not admit to that. They will swear he’s on the same level of Prince (Yeah, right! LOL!!).

                    • SuperStrings

                      R. Kelly is not a musical genius. It burns my ears to even hear people say those words.

                    • You’d be very surprised at the number of people willing to call him that.

                    • SuperStrings

                      No I wouldn’t. I’ve heard lots of people say it. Like you, I’m not a believer though.

                  • He’s disgusting and the fact that many of us willingly shun his predatory behavior is the same reason many men are still out here preying on little girls. It’s accepted as normal adult behavior. Eww.

                    • @Ms. AfroPetite:
                      But, was it really “preying on a little girl” here? After all, by all accounts, the young lady in questioned wanted to be with Mr. Kelly; and in any event, would be treated as a full on adult f she had gotten pregnaant even by a boy of similair age, and had decided to keep or abort it. Why the switchup now?


                    • Classic victim blaming. So you’re telling me that if some 16 year old girl approached you on some romantic tip, you’d engage/entertain her because it’s legal and she was coming onto you? That girl was a child. As an adult, Robert should have had enough sense and restraint to tell her to keep it moving. However, predators like to justify their actions with the type of statements you just made.

                    • Classic deflecting. So you’re telling me that if that girl had gotten pregnant that she couldn’t get an abortion if she wanted it, without the awareness or approval of her parents or the baby daddy? You ttelling me that if she had gotten pregnant and she decides to keep the baby, that it could be overruled by the parents or the baby daddy?

                      My personal views on the matter are irrelevant but since you asked I will humor you: no, I would not have gone there, and trust me, I’ve been approached by young gals like that so I speak not from theory but from experience. All I’m asking about is the very real fact that society has a fast moving target as to wat does or does not make one an adult, and the R.Kelly case opens up that can of worms along the lines of the argument that you have blatantly avoided. It would be very nice if you addressed it head on and defeated my premise on the merits on lack thereof.



    • Off-Topic: I was just talking to a young woman on skype that was raving about how beautiful you are.

      Anyway. I think it’s difficult for artists like Usher to grow because their music from the beginning is very superficial from the beginning. Not that that means he didn’t make excellent music. Classic music even. or that other artists who make very superficial music don’t make excellent and classic music as well. Just that when your career starts off with THAT type of R&B (or even pop) it’s hard to grow from there because it’s so incredibly stuck in an idea of youth.

      • Off topic- Who? I’m hideous.

        Beyonce seems to be doing fine in evolving with her superficial music….

        • Beyonce is a glitch in the Matrix.

          • Abhorsen

            I disagree. She has a loyal fan base true,but lets see how she will be post 35

            • we’ll have to wait for a new comer. The only other big pop stars (Adele and Rihanna) sell to different audiences so she’s not going to be dethroned by either of them even if they sell comparable or more in Adele’s case.

              • Abhorsen

                It’s not about dethroning it’s about a shift in tastes

            • That’s only 3 years from now. You think Beyonce is going to fall off on that same scale that quickly?

              • Abhorsen

                Her entire act is based on sexuality,remember. It gets to a point where dropping it low is not easy on the body

                • She’s probably in better shape than you. I’m sure dropping it won’t be a problem.

                  • Abhorsen

                    No shes not.

                  • Msdebbs

                    All that dropping it low can’t be good for her knees…ijs

                    • Val

                      Nor her brain cells apparently. Lol

                    • But what y’all won’t do is go in like this about Muva. K, thanks.

                    • Val


                    • Abhorsen

                      Let it go my son,

                    • Val

                      I love it when you speak in code.

                    • Instagram Model

                      I’m here for your shade Ms. Debbs.

                • I dunno. If Beyonce is smart, she can flip it up. She seems to be following the Tina Turner blueprint, so let’s see how she matures her music.

        • Msdebbs

          idk all her music sounds the same to me….

          • But no one is out here telling Beyonce to “grow up” like they are with Usher, Mariah, etc. Mariah has been wearing the same mini-skirts since 1988. I kid you not.

            • Msdebbs

              I know that gut and them hams just don’t fit in those short skirts like they used to.

            • Um, for the first 7-8 years she was out, she was dressed like an old lady. Check out the videos from Emotions, then check out the videos from Butterflies. You tell which one she’s dressed older in. LOL

              • I know the exact video she flipped on. It was when she got her emancipation papers from Tommy and went through her closet with a pair of scissors.

                That awful, 90s ridiculous video, “Honey,” for which I blame Puffy. lol

                • Kozy

                  I just twitched remembering that video. man…

                • Exactly! I didn’t mind it for an album or two, but she should have fell back after that. It makes me ask a lot of questions about who was calling the shots in the early going. LOL

                • NomadaNare

                  Paul Mooney said she got divorced and started humping on black chairs. Boy, Mariah was wild.

                  • It’s funny because it’s true. :)

              • Sigma_Since 93

                Her first hubby had a lot to do with that. Mariah pulled a Janet Control move on the Butterflies album.

                • That seems to be Tommy Mottola’s fetish though. Remember he tried to pull the same formula with that Thalia chick. Find a young girl, then mold her into something adult contemporary. *cue the intro of Dr. Buzzard’s Savannah Band’s “Cherchez La Femme”*

                  • Remember that Tommy did that to Jennifer Lopez too. In fact, he pretty much signed and promoted her as Mariah’s replacement.

              • Mariah Carey dresses like she’s 14 trying to emulate what 21 might look like.

            • Namia

              Well Beyonce should grow up….her new music leaves alot to be desired.

              • Her record and tour sales suggest otherwise. She’s going on tour with Jay-Z this summer and those tickets are also selling like hotcakes. Her formula has yet to fail her. Usher? His formula betrayed him long ago.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              But she was saying No, No, No before. Now she’s drankin watermelon and riding surfboards.

              • Huh? You’re misinterpreting the entire song, SS93.

                “Boy, I know you want me, I can see it in your eyes… / You be saying No, No, No, No, No, when it’s really Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”

                That song had nothing to do with her saying No to men or to chex; it was about her calling dude’s bluff about HIM not wanting HER. So really, she’s been saying Yes this whole time. lol

                • Sigma_Since 93

                  Oh I get it. She might have be saying yes but she wasn’t telling you what she did when she said yes. This is the maturity @AfroPetite:disqus is missing in the music. Before everything she sang about was primarily lollipops and glitter, now she’s become a psuedo Lil Kim with no record.

                  • Lil Kim pre 00’s is my everything. If that’s where Bey is headed then I’m here for that.

                • Kema

                  See that song was to Jay z cause he thought she was too young then. But she knew he wanted her. She persisted and now she rides surfboarts.

              • I wonder how many times you’ve heard Rocket and your body instantly wanted to be wherever your wife was.

            • h.h.h.

              But no one is out here telling Beyonce to “grow up” like they

              nah i just hear they call her a terrorist *shrug*

              • I take it you read about bell hooks. *smh* I don’t know how she keeps fans. At some point, it’s going to come out that she’s been trolling us all of these years and is a low-key right winger. No one can be that consistently ridiculous and not have something up their sleeve. She doesn’t strike me as a dumb woman either. Hmmm…

                • NomadaNare

                  Wait, why is Bell Hooks ridiculous?

                  • She talks like a parody of an academic. I understand using that language when appropriate, but when you go out of your way to show how much of an academic at all times, you look like a clown. It’s like the pastor who goes out of their way to wear their collar at random times. It just comes off looking insecure. Taking shots at Beyonce using $10 words and finishing up with the word terrorist makes her look like an idiot, point blank.

                    • Kema

                      She’s considered ‘Academic Royalty’ over at Clutch. :-)

                    • Nuff said. *drops mic*

                  • She’s one of those “I’m the talented tenth and you jigga boo peasants be making us look bad in front of white massa over there”.

              • I saw that panel. Bell Hooks was reaching with that comment. I understand where it came from and why she said it but Bell is better than that. Beyonce is an easy scape goat for parents not raising their children so…yea

        • Nonsense girl, you aren’t “hideous” in the least.

          Now, don’t forget to do your homework, there’ll be a test soon…


      • Abhorsen

        Off-Topic. Is she

      • “Just that when your career starts off with THAT type of R&B (or even pop) it’s hard to grow from there because it’s so incredibly stuck in an idea of youth.”

        The issue with that is when the artist does try to grow from that, their fans turn on them. This is a situation we have seen many times with a lot of R&B artists- even Usher (Remember “Here I Stand”?)

        • Exactly! You can’t complain that an artist is putting out stale music and that they’ve changed too much at the same time. LOL No album should sound exactly the same, yet a non-trivial part of the music-listening public wants the same album but New and Fresh ™. Miss me with that.

          • That’s the same argument the rock fans gave Incubus for their album from a couple of years ago “If Not Now, When?”. They trashed them and accused them of selling out over that one album where they decided to tone things down. A lot of them were saying “We miss the old ‘Morning View’ Incubus”.

            A lot of people these days that claim to be music fans are not really fans of an artist- just a particular album from that moment in time. To prove my point, listen to a person when they complain about someone wanting to go into a more creative or mature direction.

        • I adored that song. I was ready for Usher to grow up with me. But look, “Love in the Club?” Turned me ALL THE WAY OFF old boy. I haven’t liked an Usher song since, really. Maybe “There Goes My Baby” but only for the vocals; it’s a mediocre song.

          • Sure, that first single was straight huff, but the rest of “Here I Stand”? It cranks. I’ll put it in the same category of Ginuwine’s “The Life”- albums where the artist matured and the fans dogged it.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          In addition, it’s a challenge to maintain a six pack or b00bies that don’t begin to drop after you hit 33, had a kid, and don’t go under the knife. *looks at Toni Braxton*

    • Ms TLC

      “ETA: This whole 40 is the new 16 wave needs to end.”

      Yes!! Thank You!

    • I don’t know where this came from, but there has been a strong undercurrent of ageism in the urban music world since the birth of new jack swing. I’ve never seen this happen in country, rock or jazz.

      It’s kind of difficult to say we need to cut the older artists loose in favor for the younger artists and then wonder what happened to such and such. As fans of urban music, we can’t have it both ways.

      • Nobody ever told Luther he was getting too old to sing. Ridiculous.

        • Clive threw him a bone and he made a hit no one saw coming

          in the 90s Luther was just eating off greatest hits albums

          • Luther had a LOT of fans in the industry, and had low-key ties to a lot of rock acts. (One of his side hustles was writing rock music for the more mature crowd.) As a result, he could get over in situations few R&B artists could.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              Same thing with disco acts. Since they could play instruments, as long as they weren’t riding the white horse, they could still make loot.

            • Yeah a good writer is always indispensable that’s why so many get deals even with meh singing ability

            • Epsilonicus

              I watched a documentary on background singers that talked about Luther doing a lot of background singing and writing for rock acts,

          • Two greatest hits albums, one album of remakes and an ill-fated alliance with Virgin Records. The rest of them were very successful studio albums.

          • SuperStrings

            This is true. I had his greatest hits double cd.

          • Val

            I actually like Luther’s music with Change the best.

        • That’s what the suits at Epic Records tried to do to Luther during the new jack swing era. He shut them up with two multi-platinum albums and a few hit singles on the pop charts, LOL!

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Damon Wayans did a comedy skit about this years ago when he talked about songs and dances we throw away after a few months. I blame the record companies; all the folks that could sang stopped getting contracts extended after 32

        Karyn White
        Stephanie Mills
        Anita Baker
        Keith Washington

        • towninc

          love me some Anita Baker and Keith Washington!

        • Rachmo

          I can’t even listen to Anita without making praise hands

          • Sigma_Since 93

            I start rocking like Stevie when Dave Hollister begins growling.

            • Rachmo

              He is another artist that makes me say random things like “YA’LL DONT’ KNOW NOTHIN BOUT THAT” to people like 2 years younger than me.

              • IcePrincess


        • The sad part is this still happens today.

      • Usher trying to stay on par with making music that is in the same vein as what Justin Beiber is making is what needs to end. I said he can still make music but the direction needs to change.

        • The question is when he does make that change, will he get the support? We’ve seen it a million times where the fans want an artist to go back to their old sound- only to have the record tank on the charts.

          • Not my problem. Usher’s fan base consists of people who were teens/pre-teens around the early-mid 90’s. Idk what y’all are checking for should Usher go back to that sound or mature into something completely different.

      • THIS.

        Madonna is still the highest grossing tour of this decade, followed by a country singer or two, all over 40. We just love shooting ourselves in the foot.

        • If we keep doing this ageism thing, we are going to see more people in R&B disappear.

          • How is it ageism to want artists to mature in their craft without leaning so much on appealing to the current 16-25 generation?

            • Abhorsen

              How old are you A.P

              • You never ask a lady something like that! Hmph

                • Abhorsen

                  You must be 21. Does Bey not appeal to that generation you speak of

                  • Why do you think I’m 21? Bey appeals across a myriad of generations. Don’t let the conversations about her on VSB fool you. There are 40+ year old men and women who are avid fans of hers. She might not be Nina Simone or Whitney Houston but people saying she only appeals to a much younger audience are very very wrong.

                    • Abhorsen

                      You espouse this whole angle of not giving a fcuks that is prevalent among 21 year olds

                    • If you say so

                  • Epsilonicus

                    She is like 23. She a baby

            • Here’s why: Have you ever noticed that calling out a person’s age for doing something they have always been doing, but they mysteriously give other artists a pass for the same thing?

              No one told AC/DC’s Angus Young to take off that schoolboy uniform and he’s in his 60’s. No one has talked to Mick Jagger about prancing around on stage while he’s in his 70’s. It’s almost always the acts in urban music that the criticism is leveled towards.

    • Rachmo

      “last call for alcohol was 20 years ago bruh”- never! You just do at a cookout when the kids aren’t looking.

      • Oh ok. But are y’all even trying to check for Usher’s music today? No one on VSB right now can tell me that if Usher put out an album next month that you’d be waiting with bated breathe to hear it.

        • Rachmo

          Well in fairness I’m grown and have ish to do. I truly wait with bated breath for one person (Corinne Bailey Rae) and other than that i”m not too concerned.

          • Abhorsen

            Corinne,keep waiting

            • Rachmo

              It’s tough not going to lie bc I LOVE HER! But if it takes her 4 years to put out quality then so be it.

            • Val

              What’s Corrine’s rep over there, Sahel. She has a sweet girl image here but her husband was a junkie? So I’m thinking her image here may only be an image and not who she really is.

              • Rachmo

                Good question

              • Abhorsen

                Am not into speaking on gossip. She has weird tones and stories around her. There are no clean artistes in London.

                • Val

                  Lol. Yeah, like Joss Stone being stalked by the mafia. Wtf was that all about?

          • She’s had label issues to deal with last year, so a new album should be around the corner any day now.

            • Rachmo

              I am still holding my vigil

        • h.h.h.

          #wellactually i grew up listening to usher, and as such he’s one of the r&b artists i consider ‘favorite’…so…he drops an album, i’m probably coppin it within a month

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          I don’t even get motivates by R&B anymore.

          It took me a mi ute, but something Pharell sid on Hot & Fun by NERD that made think: he said its a new day, people don’t wanna dance anymore, they just want to feel.

          He got a point. If you can’t feel the music, you getting dropped. That’s why dubstep and house musicnis doing sooooo good. I’ll buy Deadmau5 or Steve Aoki before i buy Usher or Avant.

    • Artists never age gracefully, you start out at small intimate venues, you end at small intimate venues, stop changing your style to be the 6th act at Summer Jam

    • Sigma_Since 93

      Grown folks talkin. Sit down someplace and read a medical book….lol

      • Y’all talking about Usher? lol I’ll gladly take a corner!

    • h.h.h.
    • Instagram Model

      I rebuke you! Satan depart.

      • Lol maybe it is I who should be exorcising you.

  • Msdebbs

    I like his good kisser song. I think he was trying to keep up with the kids with that techno bull shiggity azz music. Hopefully the old Usher is back for us 80’s babies cause I really can’t with these Trey Songz & August Alsina characters…

    • Trey bout to be in his 30s, maybe he’ll grow the fuggup (sidebar that joint he got out now is pretty catchy)

    • Instagram Model

      Trey lost me when all his songs were about splayed legs and hard rocks, just no! I still loves him. This Alisina dude annoys me.

  • ALM247

    *Praying that the “8701” and “Confessions” Usher has been resurrected in an updated form*….I hope that someone in Atlanta had the “come to Jesus” talk with him, ’cause that europop is not where it’s at.

    • Not happening. The only reason he did “Looking 4 Myself” was due to R&B fans not supporting him. Remember, he did “Here I Stand” and they turned on him. When “OMG” became the biggest hit from “Raymond Vs. Raymond”, he just followed the money- so to speak.

      • ALM247

        Cynical much? LOL I am still hopeful.

        • You can also still be hopeful about that new D’Angelo album that’s never coming out, LMAO!!

          In all seriousness, it all depends on whether or not he wants to go back to that time in his career. At this point, I don’t see that happening.

          • Questlove seems to believe an album is coming. I think people will expect the D’Angelo that had people hating on Angie Stone for smashing that first.

            • But nah, I know that if he ever comes back, we’ll be getting Michael and not D’Angelo. “Untitled” is over.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                As long as the lyrics are tight and he can take you to church, there will always be room in the inn for D’Angelo.

            • Those same fans that hated on Angie Stone were the same ones that ran him away from making music. Think about that for a second- that’s a messed up way of doing things.

      • Good point on OMG. People get mad at R&B artists for putting out Europop, but if the R&B isn’t selling while the Europop is, who can blame them? They need to pay their bills too.

        • And furthermore, we all know that most R&B and hip hop fans don’t want to support their artists. They would rather buy a counterfeit CD or illegally download instead of buying the album. And they wonder why a lot of people in urban music are shifting their focus or want to quit (There are A LOT of them wanting to throw in the towel besides Toni Braxton- I’ll let them figure out who those are next in line to hang it up)..

          • It’s interesting how technology built up Black music from (roughly) 1965-1990, with modern R&B, reggae and hip-hop springing directly from it (and SoundScan accurately tracking their sales unlike years past), but has destroyed Black music since. Between mix tapes, dubbing, bootlegs, downloads and the almighty PPM, Black music has been screwed over.

  • kidvideo

    I must be old cause i dont get Yung Thug…
    Is this whats hot in tha streets nowadays…
    I feel like tha radio be punking me.

    • Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Future- it all sounds the same to me, LOL! No really, it does!

      • They make anyone feel like they can sing, its like Karaoke.

        • Kema

          *Sings* It aint nothing to cut that b*tch off

          • IcePrincess

            Tryna hold sum/ hold my nuts/ can u do DAT? :)

            • That song is so funny though! LMAO This is my favorite line.

          • I substitute dykk for bish and insert a line or two about Ms. Bobbit. Hilarious.

    • You’re old. Get over yourself.

    • IcePrincess

      Thugga thugga!! #SLIME lol ;)

  • I wonder if Usher is going to get on his grown man business on his new album- at least try it again? He’s in his mid 30’s now and he should at least accept the fact that he’s getting old. This is the problem that I had with Brandy’s last album “Two Eleven” and Tamar Braxton’s recent “Love And War”.

    It almost seems as if some R&B artists cannot accept growing old- or at the very least, growing up. We have seen a lot of R&B artists not make that successful transition from doing music for a certain demographic to shifting to a new sound or audience.

    There’s only one way to find out- wait until his new album drops.

    • Abhorsen

      It’s hard man. When you do sultry music that is all about the sack and love to realizing that you are not that attractive to the new generation that you’re music ought to appeal too. Some fade away and others like Sade switch it up. The current crop of RnB artists that were big in 00s and late 90s are in them thirties. Cats like D’angelo,Mario faded.

      • Sade didn’t switch up anything though- she has been making the same exact music for 30 years now.

        • Abhorsen

          True,but she made herself a mysterious entity that drops an album every ten years

          • Even Michael Jackson couldn’t pull THAT off, LOL!

            • Abhorsen

              Man,Sade is on her own level. I doubt anyone will ever master the once in a decade itch lol

              • Maxwell is trying that wave now, time will tell

              • Wrt Sade, all good points; but if I may, the following observation:

                I think one reason among many, that accounts for Sade’s longevity in comparison to other lady and even maele singers, is that she exudes sultriness; a kind of sublime vibe that glances and hints at the erotic, but isn’t “in your faace” with it like so many singers, male and female alike, are in our time. It is because of this – combined with her outsized beauty and one of the best backing baands ever – that accounts for why she is for all intents, Immortal.


                *plays “Your Love Is King”…*

                • maybe. My dad hates Sade’s music; says it puts him to sleep. lol. My mom loves her.

                  • @Ms. Dtafakari:
                    Good morning madam! How are you?

                    I can see where your dad is coming from; her music certainly has an inherent relaxing quality to it, that’s for sure. Sade is definitely an acquired taste, one of the relatively few artists who has succeeded in growing a huge, global audience while coloring outside the lines, so to speak. I consider her among my favorites; your mum has good tastes!


                    • morning! I’m peachy.

                      I like her, too; I know most of her discography b/c of my mom, with the exception of Soldier of Love. I think I’m more of a nostalgic fan than an active one.

                  • Kema

                    I agree with your pops. :-) I’m not fond of Sade

                  • menajeanmaehightower

                    Not a fan of hers.

                • SuperStrings

                  Sade is my wife, I just haven’t told her yet. She’s definitely one of my favorites. Funny thing is that, although she has a reputation for putting out an album every ten years, my favorite albums of hers were “Diamond Life”, “Promise”, and “Stronger than Pride”, which were put out in a span of 4 years.

              • Val


                • Abhorsen

                  Dunno about him. Sade has mastered the act

                • grumblegrumblegrumble. If that man wasn’t so dang pretty of voice and of voice, I’d quit him.

          • Maxwell is becoming That Dude. I don’t believe a word he says. He’ll drop his “Trilogy” over 30 years, too.

            • Rachmo

              EYE am SO SALTY over that trilogy. Playing with my emotions

        • Now Sade is like Seal & Amel Larrieux (&, to some extent, Maxwell, hear me out) in which their instrumental arrangement is as much part of the act as their vocals. They literally hold their own genre of music. People who are fans of them are also fans of their unique “sound”, so they aren’t going anywhere. Note that none of them saw the same success that one randum album where they strayed from their “sound” (Embrya, whatever that album was that wasn’t named “Seal”, etc).

          • What also helped them was staying with the same producer- not just for one album, but for a series of albums.

            Seal had Trevor Horn, Amel Larriuex has her husband (Some people complain about his production, but it works with her voice) and Maxwell and Sade had the same producer in Stuart Matthewman. By them working with the same producer, the sound of their albums were consistent and direct.

          • Epsilonicus

            I actually liked Embrya…

      • D’Angelo left.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          He should be hereeeeeeeeee

    • Tamar legit put out the same product she tried to do 12 years ago this time with the reality show bump

      • IcePrincess

        Yall some haters. Yall didn’t like “all the way home?” That joint was riding. Pardon the pun. You kno, it’s funny, cuz I can’t stand her personality from the show. I was soooo ready not to like her music, but I ended loving every song of hers that I’ve heard. Gotta jus keep an open mind sometimes

        • I like her slower ballads but look up her 2000 album its pretty similar

        • towninc

          agree. I like all the radio songs from that album. She works my nerve, but I really enjoy her singing. I like all of the sisters though.

        • I love “All the Way Home.” I’m thinking about getting the album. Should I?

          • Go to Spotify first and then make your decision from there.

          • IcePrincess

            Yes. My homegirl has it. I borrowed it for like a month lol

      • Her older music seemed more mature as opposed to what she’s doing now. I just can’t sit through songs like “Tip Toe”, “Hot Sugar” and “She Did That” from someone that’s around my age, LOL!

  • “You remind me of a girl, that I once knew.
    See her face whenever I, I look at you.
    You won’t believe all of the things she put me through.
    This is why I just can’t get with you.”
    Usher, “U Remind Me”

    Good mrning Alex, everyone,
    A fitting discussion on Mr. Raymond, given that today the Moon is in Libra, matching Mr. Raymond’s Libran Sun (born Oct 14, 1978, Dallas TX). He was born the same year Marvin Gaye’s confessional album, “Here, My Dear” was released, and while Usher never was and will never be the kind of musicial genius and innovator Gaye was, there are nevertheless some notable parallels in their lives. Like Usher, Gaye also started out in the musical and entertainment business very young, and struggled to find his way beyond life as a cog in the Motown machine; Usher’s “Raymond v.Raymond”, which takes its inspiration from the hit film starring Dustin Hoffman (one of my all-time favorite actors ever), “Kramer v. Kramer”, is also a confessional album that deals with very senstive, emotionnally raw elements of Usher’s failed marriageg to Ms. Tamkea Foster. And like Gaye when his now-recognized immortal classic “Here My Dear” first dropped, “Raymond v. Raymond” (and more notably “Here I Stand”, which can be rightly seen as a prelude) was seen as a departure from the Usher of old…and that’s putting it mildly.

    Like Ricky, I too have musical tastes that are a bit more, shall we say, off the beaten path (currently been on a Pat Metheney binge), and yea, while Usher has an eternal teeny bopper vibe going on with him, I’ve always liked and even admired him in many ways. What cannot be disputed is his commercial success: more than 65M records sold worldwide, easily a third of that number in the USA alone, making him one of the handful of artists putting up such numbers in the history of recorded music(!). His “mentor”, Michael Jackson himself, would be proud.

    (It truly is fascinating to consider, that one of Jackson’s earliest hits as a soloist, “Can’t Stop Till You Get Enough”, was a strip rip from Marvin Gaye’s smash “disco” hit from 1977, “Got To Give It Up”. Robin Thick wasn’t the first to do this.)

    Still, I like the guy – Librans have a way of making others like them, after all – and while I definitely agree with what seems to be an emerging consensus – that Usher learn to embrace his elder statesman role in the pop music world – I continue to root for his success.

    But, and again others here in the forum have pointed this out, the plain, even harsh truth of the matter is, that Usher isn’t as musically, or vocally, talented as a Marvin Gaye; few singers in our time are (the only one that comes to mind immediately would be D’Angelo, who’s best work is now some 15 years old). Artists like Gaye, can adapt not only to the changing times around them, but also to the changing times within as well, indeed, the get better with age. Gaye’seasily had three times the discography Usher had at the latter’s age, but Gaye isn’t remembered for any of that; it was the last decade and a half or so of his life, from “What’s Going On”, the first ever concept album recorded, until “Midnight Love”, Gaye’s final album of his career (and for which he won his first and only Grammy of his life; compare to Usher’s, I think, eight?), that burnishes Gaye’s legacy in the Public Mind. It’s hard to see Usher being able to move into middlge-age and meaningfully reinvent himself in the way that Gaye did, despite the two having experienced marital, emotional and familial pains.

    And yet, I root for him, still.

    Go figure.

    *plays “U Remind Me” again*

    Now adjourn your arses…


    • towninc

      What does “the moon is in libra ” mean?

      • Good morning and hello!

        Thanks for asking–good question. Like the Sun, the Moon (and the rest of the planets) moves through the Zodiac, passing through the differing Signs; as it does, it reflects/influences the Public Mind/Mood, as the this is what the Moon represents on a more collective level. Today, the discussion centers on a notable Libran native, Mr. Raymond; and today, the Moon’s astrological position is in Libra, which reflects that.

        On a more personal level, the Moon in a horoscope represents a person’s emotional inner life; their earliest beginnings/memories in the home; their experiences of the mother and maternal figures; how they instictively react to life’s experiences and events; and what they most need around themselves to feel secure, safe and supported.

        So, the Moon in Libra, on an individual level, would suggest the native needed to be popular, to be liked and well-regarded by others; to be “beautiful”, harmonious, and so on. Discord, strife or disharmony or any kind is deeply off-putting to the Libran archetype, and especially so to the Moon in Libra, the most sensitive of the Libran placements any person can have. As Libra represents all things beautiful, Moon in Libra natives may feel themselves instinctively drawn to “beautiful” things/people – music, art, poetry, literature (particularly of the romantic/erotic kind), interior decorating, hair/makeup/fashion, etc. Anything involving “beauty” will have strong appeal.

        I suspect that there will be little of the usual more raucous displays not just in this forum, but overallin society; it is often thus when the Moon is in Liibra. People are more apt to chillout and take it easy, taking time to smell the roses.

        There is a good volume on the Moon along these lines, called “Moon Signs”, by Ms. Donna Cunningham, one of the Grand Dames of Astrology, and rightly so. It can be procured through Amazon and for very little money (I think, at most $5 USD?). Highly recommended, and one does not need to be a seasoned astrologer to understand what is in its pages.


        • towninc

          Oh wow! You are like google (the new encyclopedia ). I’m a Libra so found this pretty fascinating and accurate. I’ll definitely check out the book because i have more questions. Thank you

          • @Ms. Towninc:
            The pleasure was all mine. :)


          • By the way, Ms. Towninc, you may be interested to know that another singer born not that far off from Usher is also a Libra native: Eric “Erro” Roberson, Sep 25, 1976 Rahway NJ. In fact, half of his horoscope’s planets reside in Libra, with Venus leading the way.

            I had the chance to meet Erro while attending one of his concerts up in the SoHo section of NYC a few years back; he was very personable, came out to meet everyone waiting on line to get into the venue, busted it up with everyone, etc. Classic Libran all the way, and by all accounts a hopeless romantic. During his set, he paused to talk about the many people who’ve contacted him, thanking him for making music that has been te bridge to meeting that special someone, or in other cases, to save troubled relationships. Like Usher, whom I have yet to meet in person, I like Erro, too. I consider his “Music Man First” album to be among if not best of his discography.


            • LeeLee

              I love Erro! And I’m interested in astrology, so will good looking out on that book. I’m a Cancer but the majority of my friends and associates are Libras. I need to figure out why…..

              • @Ms. LeeLee:
                Yes, I can see why you would “love” Erro, LOL; he is quite the personable guy.

                As for your astro-situation: chancecs are very high that you have significant placements either in Libra, Aries, or both…we always attract who and what we are…


          • Kema

            I’m guessing your sun sign is Libra. That may not be your moon sign. The following site allows you to obtain a free birth chart which will give you your moon sign, rising sign (ascendant) and others.

            • towninc

              yes I’m a true libra. Thanks Kema

    • While we’re on the topic, and in line with Ms. Towninc’s comments upthread a piece, another “teeny bopper” singer I’ve always liked is Avant, who just happens to be born the same year as Mr. Raymond, and is also a Child of Venus (born Apr 26, 1978, Cleveland Oh). He never achieved the kind of commercial success that Usher has, but he’s enjoyed a steady, stable career, which is perhaps most notable for his recurring duets with singer Keke Wyatt, who I also like very much (sadly, her antics out of the studio has hampered her career).

      I wrote about Avant a few years back on my personal blog The Obsidian Files, and in particular his duet with Ms. Wyatt, a cover of the 80s hit “My First Love”:

      “And while much of what made that music so special is in short supply these days, there are still some nuggets of it around. Since many of you are a bit younger, the name “Avant” should sound familiar. Well, about a decade ago, he did a duet with an immensely talented singer named KeKe Wyatt. Their duet was a rendition of the classic hit “My First Love”, by Rene’ & Angela. They did the original so much justice, that I have a little backstory to share with you all about it.

      Some years back I while tooling around in a big department store’s electronics section, I decided to try out the stereos that were on display. This was before I got my iPod and was still using CDs, and I carried them around in my backpack along with my Discman. I decided, since it was a Sunday, to give the standard issue Hip Hop a rest and put on something a bit more sedate. I chose a big Sony stereo setup with a huge sub-woofer attached to it, popped in the Avant disc and cued it up to “My First Love”, cranked the volume up to about 8 or so, and then stood back. 

      The sound was excellent – so much so that when the song was over and I took the disc out, a little crowd of people – WHITE people – had formed, among them, an old White lady who looked to be at least 70 or so. Bespectacled and white hair pulled back into a bun in a floral dress, she said the song was beautiful, that she loved the string arrangements and that “the Woman singing is excellent!”, and she smiled so that it looked like she had a tear in her eye. In the moment, I was taken aback not just by her reaction, but that of a suburban “Whitebread” crowd – but upon further reflection later, I came to see that great music, and the themes that they discuss, which in this case, was the bittersweet tinge of a first love in one’s life – is something that is truly Universal. It was a very profound lesson for me, and one which I hopefully now pass on to all of you.”

      • IcePrincess

        Omggggg LOVE avant! That song “separated” is one of my all time faves in LIFE. Word on the street is, avant would’ve been way bigger, but R. Kelly was blocking his career back in the 90’s. Throwing his weight around at the radio stations & such. Guess we’ll never kno….

        • @IcePrincess:
          Really? Now, THAT would be a very interesting story to read up on! Namely because, why would R. Kelly, an immense talent, be “afraid” of Avant? Hmm…

          At any rate, yes, “Separated” is a very nice song, and he’s had a number of hits as well. He’s done another duet with Ms. Wyatt, “You & I”, and it is interesting to see how both have aged a bit, but still tasteful and classy, in my view. Mr. Avant has put on a bit of weight, which is par for the course with Taureans, LOL.


          • You skipped my favorite Avant/Keke Wyatt duet: “Nothing in This World”

            • @Ms. Dtafakari:
              Good catch! Indeed it is one of their hits.

              To go back to the discussion proper, I am listening to “Darling, Darling Baby” by the OJays, the most famed member of the group being Mr. Eddie Levert. Many in this forum may be more familiar with his son, the late great Gerald Levert, who left us way too soon.

              “Darling, Drling Baby” was released in late 1976, and was produced by the powerhouse duo of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff; one of their in-house producers, was Tom Bell, who was responsible for “the Philly Sound” (which in turn, would form the basis for the “sound” of NeoSoul). Bell’s focus on string and other orchestral arrangements, really made acts like theOJays, really stand out.

              I could be dead wrong on this score, but it is very difficult to think up an analogue today, that is comparable to the OJays. And that is very saddening, to me.

              By the way, it should be noted that “Daring, Darling Baby” was used onBig Pun’s smash hit “I’m Not A Player”, another favorite of mine. RIP, Pun.


            • That song makes me cry. I have no real reason for said tears but I can’t make it through that song without tissue.

        • Freebird

          Thank you, Ice Princess for taking it there! As soon as I saw Avants name that song started playing in my head. Separated is a classic r&b song for any era. Warm weather music!

        • Rachmo

          *hums “My First Love”*

        • towninc

          don’t they look like cousins

      • Avant is love. I need him in my life.

        • @Ms. AfroPetite:
          Ha! Yet another data point in favor of confirming your birthtime: Mr. Avant’s Moon is in Sagittarius – which is the same Sign as your Ascendant. And which is common to see in “love matches”.



          • You don’t know my life! lol But ok, that’s interesting.

            • @Ms. AfroPetite:
              No, I don’t; but I do know your horoscope.



    • SuperStrings

      Didn’t know Usher and I shared a birthday.

      • Small world, eh? Perhaps you two share a few things in common?


        • SuperStrings

          “Perhaps you two share a few things in common?”
          We do live in the same city.

  • towninc

    Usher =replaceable and forgettable for me. Not bad, just manufactured so he doesn’t stand out for me. Don’t think I’ve ever purchased an album. I lump all those guys together (usher, Chris brown, mario, trey songs, lloyd, ginuwine)

    • LehcarB

      And Ne-Yo

      • towninc

        Yes, forgot about him!

      • Ne Yo was at least the most talented writer but i think he ran material based on all the girls (and guys?) Who ain’t want him in high school

        • Out of curiosity I ran through Ne-Yo’s writing credits, that man is a genius! Half of Beyonce’s hits were written/co-written by him alone!

          • Val

            His talent is seriously underrated.

            • Abhorsen

              To the left to the left

              • Ding! Ding! Ding! Beyonce tried to snub him of that song. That song wasn’t even made for her. She’s real stingy about writing credits which is so odd to me.

                • Abhorsen

                  Shes stingy because she cannot write or play an instrument.

                  • I think that’s so tragic for anyone to be a professed singer but be unable to play an instrument or read sheet music with any kind of fluidity.

                    • Abhorsen

                      Meh,Rihanna,Bey are doing alright. At least Nicki can play an instrument and went to art school

                • There’s a long story behind this one…a long story…

                  • Epsilonicus

                    Whats the story?

                    • There has been a story circulating the industry and the internet in reference to Beyoncé and the issues surrounding her songwriting credits. It centers on her either not writing anything at all (At least according to Ne-Yo and Makeba Riddick), or her having idea for a song, but not being able to write one (This is also an issue that surrounds Usher as well). Either way, her name will be placed first in the songwriting credits, although her contributions to said songs are rather minimal if that.

                      This is not a new phenomenon- this goes all the way back to the 50’s & 60’s- Elvis Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker used to strong arm his way into giving Elvis writing credits, even though it was well-known that Elvis never touched a pen- let alone wrote any song. Also, biographer David Ritz has a songwriting credit for Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”, even though all he came up with was the title.

                      Allegedly, Matthew Knowles (her father) had an arrangement with the producers on Destiny’s Child’s albums as well as Beyoncé’s solo records whereas they will give them promotion, exposure and more work in exchange for Beyoncé getting a songwriting and co-producer credit. If you noticed, she always worked with new or small scale producers. It’s kind of similar to Sean “Puffy” Combs doing the same thing a decade earlier with his production team The Hitmen- he didn’t do a thing, but he gets credited as if it was his idea.

                      Quite a few producers and professional songwriters have been very vocal about this issue. Some have gotten blacklisted and others had to seek work writing for pop acts. Rich Harrison and Bangladesh spoke on it at length and, well, she hasn’t worked with them since. I remember when Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk came forward about her being the actual songwriter behind a lot of Avril Lavigne’s hits and she had been all but written out of the Canadian music scene by Avril’s handlers.

                      Do a quick Google Search on Beyoncé and her songwriting and see what comes up. It’s pages and pages of scandals.

                    • Val

                      Have you seen the doc about The Sugarhill Gang? I think it’s called ‘We Want Our Name Back’. Not only did their label steal their music but they actually stole their name.

                    • I didn’t see it, but knowing that the group was pretty much created by Sylvia Robinson, it’s not a surprise they would have legal issues behind the scenes. Is it on Netflix?

                    • Val

                      Yep, it’s on netflix.

                  • I have time

    • You take out Confessions and Usher is a middling artist (fwiw i think 8701 is a better album albeit not as successful)

      • you shut yo mouf.

        • Hi Dara.

          • Ionno. Usher is probably the best-selling male R&B artist of our generation, a mainstay of the Must-Dance-And-Sing era. I don’t think we’re likely to find anyone who can conquer the market like him again. I despise his techno music and his forays into mainstream pop, not because it’s opened him to wider success, but because it isn’t R&B and it sounds horrible.

            • He is but when u step back u see hes been meh almost as long as he was great.

            • h.h.h.

              Usher is probably the best-selling male R&B artist of our generation,

              ehh…#WellActually it’s R Kelly.

              i’mma letchu cook tho… *moonwalks out the kitchen*

              • Eh, let me qualify “of our generation”

                Kells was born in 1967 and Usher was born in 1978. I identify more with Usher than R Kelly. In sales, yes, Kelly merks. But I can’t think of anyone closer to the 80s/90s babies generation who is as popular as Usher in male R&B. Can you?

                • I don’t think that R&B exists in my generation. It’s either pop or hip-hop. There are no R&B powerhouses in existence for my group.

                • h.h.h.

                  well i thought we were the same age…lol…i guess i must be older by alot…

                  i like both Usher and Kellz music (i still listen to Usher’s first, still listen to the R double album), i’d have to say the best male R&B that i grew up with? R Kelly. Usher is the better dancer, Kellz is the better songwriter/singer

                  • I’m an early 80s baby. lol. And if you thought I was “older by a lot” then I’m flattered lol.

                    But I agree with you on Usher v Kellz.

                    • Abhorsen

                      In A,Ps world you ought to retire lmao

                    • oh, I know, right? lucky for me, life continues after 30 lol

        • IcePrincess

          Gurl the upvote button isn’t working, but take this co-sign anyway

          • Icey sweetie honey boo how u gonna take her side

      • panamajackson

        You think 8701 is a better album than Confessions? I can’t begrudge anybody their personal opinions…

        …but errrum…


  • I heard the “Good Kisser” track on the radio, and I like it. It’s modern and mature, plus it’s a leading candidate to “song most likely to creep out my daughter in 15 years when she REALLY gets the lyrics.” I like this comeback Usher is trying to put together, and I wish him the best. You can make a not-ridiculous case for him being the best of his generation, and I hope he can keep his efforts going.

    What I don’t get is how people trash artists who has been out for a while for putting out a bad album here and there. It’s hard to put together a decent album. To keep it going requires a lot of work and some luck, and it’s not easy. It’s hard to name an artist with staying power who hasn’t put out a clunker. Plus artists are humans too, with personal problems, poor decisions, record label beefs, time pressures, and all that entails. So long as they realize that their music is crap, give them another chance if they’ve put out 6 bangers in a row.

    Now Mobb Deep though? They need to realize that you can’t be 40+ on some straight gunplay ish. Grow up dammit!

    • “Now Mobb Deep though? They need to realize that you can’t be 40+ on some straight gunplay ish. Grow up dammit!”

      I don’t know, Todd- their new album “The Infamous Mobb Deep” has been getting good reviews.

      *points to Spotify*

      • I trust your judgment, PA, but those last 3 albums had me shaking my head though. This is Mobb Deep’s last shot before I pretend they dropped dead in 2003.

    • Kema

      ‘Good Kisser’ is ok. But for some reason (IMO) it sounds like a not as good version of Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty’.

    • SuperStrings

      “What I don’t get is how people trash artists who has been out for a while for putting out a bad album here and there.”
      Sh1t, Stevie Wonder is a living legend with uncountable classics to his name, and even he has some trash. No one is exempt.

      • Even Stevie’s trash is a lot better than people’s treasures. His alleged “worst” albums “The Woman In Red” and “In Square Circle” still had classic songs on them.

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