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Coming of age while under the glaring spotlight that is celebrity is a balancing act akin to walking a tightrope. Throughout the years, many phenoms have faltered under pressures of fame and the expectations that come along with it. In R&B, one star who was able to avoid the pitfalls of the industry or tumbling into obscurity is Usher, who made good on his potential with a slew of platinum albums and hit singles.
Releasing his first two albums; Usher and My Way; before turning eighteen, the crooner's first step toward adulthood and a more mature sound came with his third studio album, 8701. Selling over eight million copies worldwide and netting him a pair of Grammy awards, 8701 would prepare fans for the next step of his evolution, which would be completed upon the star's fourth album, Confessions, hitting shelves.
Released on March 23, 2004, Confessions saw Usher reconnecting with producer Jermaine Dupri, who helped the singer craft what is considered the magnum opus of his career. Confessions is a murderers row of radio hits, contemporary ballads, club bangers, and steamy bedroom rompers. Achieving critical acclaim, including a Grammy award for Best Contemporary R&B Album, as well as ending the decade as the second highest-selling album in the U.S. with over eight million copies sold, Confessions is a tour de force and one of the greatest albums of its time.
In celebration of the album's 15th anniversary, REVOLT TV highlights seven of its songs that helped make it the classic it remains today.
Usher kicked off 2004 with a splash with this seismic smash, which matched the R&B sensation with rap stars Ludacris and Lil Jon, the latter who produced the track. The club banger was released as the lead single from Confessions. It became Usher's biggest hit of his career, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for twelve consecutive weeks.
Rap super-producer Just Blaze helms the boards on this electric album cut, which finds Usher in a state of regret after botching his relationship with a former flame. Powered by guitars, percussion, and a sample of Dionne Warwick's 1973 release "You're Gonna Need Me," this edgy number is a certified hit that resonated equally in the hip hop and R&B communities.
"Confessions, Pt. II"
Usher bares all on this explosive offering, which had music critics and fans alike speculating on the backstory behind the record. Produced by Dupri, whose own failed relationship was used as source material for the record, this standout track became Usher's third consecutive single to reach the Hot 100 summit.
Matters of the heart get analyzed on this heartbreak anthem, which was inspired by the singer's split from TLC member Chilli. Produced and co-written by Dupri, along with Usher and Bryan Micheal-Cox lending their writing talents, this slow-rolling composition continued the superstar's hot streak, scoring him his second straight chart-topping hit. It also helped confirm Usher's arrival as the newly crowned King of R&B.
"This is for you, you, my No. 1," Usher declares on this enticing selection from the now-veteran's blockbuster fourth studio album. Produced by Dre & Vidal, this song finds Usher showering his significant other with compliments and validation, casting her as the "superstar" in their relationship.
Rollicking electric guitar riffs help lay the foundation for this frisky highlight that captures Usher on the hunt for a flirtatious lady to help him light up the dance floor. One of the more lively compositions on Confessions, this offering quickly became a fan favorite and casts the vocalist in a grown and sexy vibe, completing his evolution from teenage heartthrob to full-blown ladies man.
"Can U Handle It"
Sexual tensions arise on this sensuous ballad, as Usher inquiries if his lover is prepared to take their passion to the brink. Produced by Pro-Jay and Robin Thicke, this track is one of the premier inclusions on the album and remains a go-to selection in the midst of a quiet storm.
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