Before Black Music Month ends, Usher celebrates his unparalleled music career by visiting the NPR offices for his Tiny Desk concert debut. The R&B icon is joined by modern R&B staples Eric Bellinger and Vedo, who serve as backing vocalists. He declared them the “most incredible voices of this time.”
For his inaugural Tiny Desk set, Usher opens with “You Make Me Wanna…” from his sophomore album, My Way, released in September 1997. Then, he gives Bellinger the floor to sing the opening note of “Superstar” from his diamond-certified album Confessions.
Usher followed with “U Don’t Have to Call,” taken from 8701. Vedo got to flex his vocal muscles during this song. Usher eventually transitions into “Nice & Slow.” You’ll have to watch the rest of Usher’s Tiny Desk set below to see what else he had in store.
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This Friday, July 1, Usher teams with rap duo City Girls for their new song “Good Love.” It will arrive with a music video directed by Daps.
The City Girls aren’t the only acts Usher worked with this year. In February, Mary J. Blige called on Usher for a duet titled “Need Love.” It appears on her most recent album, Good Morning Gorgeous, issued on Mary J. Blige Productions in partnership with 300 Entertainment. They gave their debut “Need Love” performance in May during night two of Blige’s inaugural Strength of Woman Festival and Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The song originally was just Mary. We didn’t intend to put anybody [on] there, but J. White produced that record and I think, at the time, he was working with Usher when we had it. He played it in one of his sessions with Usher. He killed it,” shared Blige’s A&R Eddie Fourcell in an interview with Rated R&B.
Usher teased the release of his own new album this year. He told People’s Mark Gray that global shutdown in recent years shifted the direction of his long-awaited follow-up to 2016’s Hard II Love.
“In COVID, while we have been in quarantine, my ideas changed. I actually learned new things. I was able to really be reflective and find out what things matter and really have some true, honest, deep conversations with people and myself, to take some ownership of some of where my life has gone and some of the things that I’ve come through. It is honest.” expressed Usher.
On July 15, Usher kicks off the second leg of his Las Vegas residency at Dolby Live at Park MGM. The concert runs through October 29. Tickets for the new dates are available now.
Usher has been honored by Rated R&B with revisits of classic albums, including 8701 and, most recently, Looking 4 Myself. Rico Love, Luke Steele, Pierre Medor, Ron “Flippa” Colson and more spoke with Rated R&B’s Keithan Samuels to comment on his seventh studio effort.
“I loved it all just because it was so risky. I’m a real risky person when it comes to trying new things,” Bellinger told Rated R&B.
Over the last few years, Usher released several songs, including the chart-toppers “Bad Habits” and “Don’t Waste My Time” featuring Ella Mai, as well as “SexBeat” with Lil Jon and Ludacris. He also collaborated with Jam & Lewis for “Do It Yourself,” lifted off their debut album Jam & Lewis, Vol. 1.
Watch Usher’s Tiny Desk performance below.