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 Bionic-era 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-Will.i.am, 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.