“A lot of what I plan to offer with this album is kinda standing in this spot. … The king’s back. I ain’t gonna say ‘back,’ I never left,” proclaimed Usher in an MTV interview in 2007. Six months after making this bold statement, the R&B crooner released Here I Stand, his first album since 2004’s multi-platinum Confessions.
A lot has happened in Usher’s personal life since his Confessions era. From ending his relationship with singer Chili and parting ways with his mother as manager to losing his father and becoming a father and husband, Usher wanted his life experiences to reflect in the records on Here I Stand.
Although he recorded some of Here I Stand before the birth of his first son and his marriage to then-wife Tameka Foster, his new music direction was already in the works. “It was a deliberate choice to make music with substance, not just about the things that we’re accustomed to—music about being the celebrity, the player, or having the car, the girl and the bling,” he told ESSENCE in 2008.
Led by Polow da Don-produced single “Love in the Club” featuring Jeezy, Usher’s fifth LP was released on May 13, 2008. It spawned four other moderately successful singles (“Love in the Club Part. II,” “Moving Mountains,” “Trading Places” and the title track) and eventually became certified platinum by the RIAA.
To celebrate its anniversary, here are five love lessons from Here I Stand.
Lesson 1: Roleplay is healthy.
Sometimes we get comfortable sticking to gender norms (i.e., a man pays for movie and dinner, while a woman cooks and cleans). But who said we have to follow those exhausting rules? Whatever keeps your relationship thriving, do it.
Lesson 2: The past is the past for a reason.
Give your ex’s successor a chance to make their spot in your heart their own. While your former love may have treated you wrong, that baggage shouldn’t be carried into your next relationship. Share those hurtful moments with your next mate in the beginning, and give them an opportunity to prove themselves until they show you otherwise.
“Love You Gently”
Lesson 3: Slow down, baby, the loving ain’t going nowhere.
There’s nothing wrong with a quicky every now and then, but it can’t be the norm in the bedroom. You can’t just get yours and forget about them. Your significant other deserves a pleasurable loving-making experience, too.
Lesson 4: If you’re not happy, just leave.
Unless your lover practices sorcery, they probably can’t read your mind. Walking around with an attitude and being distant won’t rebuild a broken relationship. If they can’t get through to you, how can a bond be mended? Here’s some advice: talk up. You can either love them or leave them alone. It’s that simple.
Lesson 5: Show love any time, any place.
If you love your mate, then let them (and the world) know it’s real. Not to say you put your relationship on display all the time. But there’s nothing wrong with cute little reminders, especially if it’s a solid connection.
Revisit Usher’s Here I Stand in its entirety below.