Usher’s Career Reflection: Evolve or Evaporate

Seven studio albums and Grammy Awards in, Usher is one of R&B music’s most successful stars. He’s gone from “Call Me A Mack” and “My Way” to “U Got It Bad” and “U Don’t Have To Call” to “OMG” and “Climax” and beyond giving music fans a mix of traditional R&B, dance, soul, and everything in between.

Speaking of his career, just hours before the release of his anticipated seventh studio album, Usher attributes his longevity to a willingness to evolve. According to Usher, you either “evolve,” as an artist, or “evaporate.”

“Simply put: Evolve or evaporate. That’s how you stick around. Evolve or evaporate. You have to be very cognizant of what’s going on around you. You can’t be so bold and reluctant to be receptive to change that you don’t allow yourself to grow. Because nobody really understands that music is always growing, a lot of it is reciprocal,” says Usher.

Looking at music now, Usher says we’re in a time similar to the ’70s and ’80s.

“Some things will come back. I think that music now, more than ever, is more like it was in the ’70s and ’80s, where it’s a little bit of all these different mixes that work together all at one time. You got hip-hop joined with alternative music, alternative artists really understanding and appreciating the earlier essence of hip-hop, and pop being something that’s not just popular or commercial,” Usher tells Spin. “Artists like Swedish House Mafia, you would never imagine that something that hard would be pop, but it is now.”

Working hard on “Looking 4 Myself,” Usher claims writing his own music allowed for better selection of producers that would ‘best fit’ the type of song written. In other words, he went for producers who understood and complimented his desire to take this album to a different level.

“Commercial viability wasn’t what I thought of first. I thought of a mission that changes, recreates, and reestablishes our sound in not a commercial way, but a relevant way,” says Usher. “I worked with Diplo, I worked with Swedish House Mafia, I worked with Pharrell [Williams] again. All these people really understood what the mission was, and that was to not be exactly who fans think I am. It’s a new experience, but it’s still Usher.”

“Looking 4 Myself” will be released Tuesday, June 12 via RCA.