Tevin Campbell’s 1993 ballad, “Can We Talk,” is arguably the singer’s biggest hit to date. Decades later, the popular tune is still a fan favorite. It’s almost hard to believe that the iconic song was almost given to another R&B artist. In a recent interview with the “State of Black Music Podcast,” Campbell said the song almost went to Usher.
While speaking about rumors surrounding the 90s hit, Campbell told the hosts, “Well, that’s true. That’s actually true, L.A. [Reid] did want [Usher] to record it, but Babyface wanted me to do it and they had a big fight over that.” According to Hot New Hip Hop, Usher confirmed Campbell’s claims in a past interview. “So, L.A. Reid wanted Babyface to work on me and they were going through, you know, a lot of drama at the time,” Usher reportedly said. “They were kinda severing their ties … he got mad… And he built an entire album for me, and he gave the whole album to somebody else … Tevin Campbell!”
Although Campbell and Usher’s talents have contributed to great memories throughout the years, fans seem to agree that Babyface was on to something when he fought for Campbell to get the track. “Usher couldn’t sing ‘Can We Talk’ like he could. Tevin bodied it. And it’s truly a staple at every party,” one fan tweeted. Another said, “Nobody and I do mean NOBODY is out-singing Tevin Campbell on ‘Can We Talk.’ NO-BOD-Y. Not an Usher, Michael Jackson, Tank, Chris Brown, Mario. Nobody!”
This type of story isn’t uncommon in the music industry. According to Esquire, Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U” was intended for Janet Jackson. Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Stop” was said to be for Rihanna. There’s also the infamous story of one of Toni Braxton’s biggest hits originally being for Anita Baker. BET previously reported that while Baker was pregnant, L.A. Reid and Babyface used Braxton (a new artist at the time) to record a demo of “Love Should Have Brought You Home.” After hearing Braxton on the track, they decided the newcomer was a better fit. The 1992 song was added to the Boomerang soundtrack and became Braxton’s breakout hit.
I agree either Tevin Campbell… Usher couldnt sing can we talk like he could… Tevin Bodied it… and it’s truly a staple at every party!
— 🍫🐆Eartha Kitt Kat Bar 🐆🍫 (@fe_TISH9) July 3, 2022
Nobody and I do mean NOBODY is out-singing Tevin Campbell on 'Can We Talk.' NO-BOD-Y. Not an Usher, Michael Jackson, Tank, Chris Brown, Mario. Nobody!
— Septum_Mami🧘🏾♀️🌻🧚🏾♀️ (@_bananababy_xo) July 2, 2022