About 12 summers ago — 2004 specifically — a scroll through the radio, a surf through music video channels like BET, and a flip through the pages of magazines like Billboard would automatically lead you toward Usher and his sweet soul blockbuster, Confessions.
This week 12 years ago, the somber single "Burn" stretched its way to a seventh week in the penthouse of the Hot 100 chart. Prior to this streak, "Yeah!," the lead single, dominated the same chart for 12 consecutive weeks and a week later, the album peaked atop the Billboard 200 for a ninth time. All of this is to say, 2004 was the year of Usher, and his Confessions burned the airwaves, charts, and everything associated with audio output. But, believe it or not, before the opus became the most shipped out album of 2004, earned an RIAA credit for Diamond sales, and won three golden gramophones at the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards, the superstar singer had to convince his label, Artista Records, that he still, well, had it.
"When we first started making Confessions, we went to L.A. Reid's house. [He] told us that Usher wasn't interesting and he wasn't interesting enough," recalled Jermaine Dupri, founder of So So Def and man behind the genesis of Confessions. Continuing with the conversation had between Usher, Reid and himself, JD said, "He was like, he makes hit records, but he wasn’t an interesting artist at that point, like people didn’t no nothing about him and what his life was about. At that point, on 8701, 'You Got It Bad' was there, but he didn’t feel like people were holding on to Usher."
So what's one to do when the captain of the ship tells you that you're not cutting it? "We left his house stone-faced like, 'Hmm, what do we do? Your CEO just told you that you’re not interesting,'" JD remembered. In reality, the only thing left to do in such a case, is to go like Nike and just do it. "So we left Atlanta and came to L.A. and just started working," Dupri said. That "working" led to the accolades mentioned earlier and christened the legends of Dupri, Usher and one of the most important albums within the last 15 years.