For a musician like Usher, there is a lot of glory in creating a timeless catalogue of records that fans never tire of.

But the reality of the music industry is that the praise ebbs and flows, and the R&B veteran recently got real about his hits and misses in conversation with Vulture.

The 43-year-old tells the outlet that the main takeaway he’s learned throughout his career is that “artists need to build strong catalogues around the hits and audiences must give the music the time and respect it deserves.”

“Don’t just make singles, make an experience,” the artist says.

Despite Confessions being a well-loved album among his fans, Usher admits that the lukewarm response from critics disappointed him. The 2004 album received generally positive reviews, but the singer noted that the more mixed responses could be attributed to critics having to get “acclimated” to his still-evolving sound.

“I feel it was partially on the story that we were telling and people getting acclimated to this new artist and having respect for or understanding of what it was for the guys who grew up with the Princes, the Michael Jacksons, the Whispers, the Isley Brothers, and the Luther Vandrosses,” he tells Vulture. “They were looking at a new frontier… I do wish critics celebrated what I was working on in that time. It’s okay that they didn’t because it made me work harder.”

Similarly, there was a divided response to his Confessions follow-up, Here I Stand. When recalling his inspiration for putting out the album, Usher noted that he was “going through a human moment” during the time and wanted to translate that into his music.

“I realized in R&B and hip-hop songs at the time, people didn’t share the fact that a relationship was the inspiration for the songs. They were only giving you the experience of the player in the nightclub,” he shares, adding that the musicians didn’t celebrate being in relationships or their romantic milestones.

“If they did, they were begging for a woman to forgive them or figuring out how to seduce a woman. There was literally this phobia. It was damn near recommended by record companies: ‘If you talk about your relationship, the girls ain’t going to love you. They’ll disconnect from you,'” he adds.

“And I was like, Nah, I think they’re going to celebrate. I’ll give them something to aspire to, a man dedicating songs to them based off how he feels about them, who ain’t hiding the relationship. Now, turn the page. We got the Keyshias and Gucci Manes, all these people who are celebrating their relationships. Here I Stand was the beginning. The type of music they were creating in the ’70s and the ’80s, when the O’Jays were talking about their love for their wives. That’s what Here I Stand was,” he says.

Meanwhile, the artist recently kicked off his immersive yet “intimate” My Way residency in Las Vegas.

“I played in a million and one concerts and arenas and having this amazing venue to not only be intimate with my audience, but then to also try some things that have recently become relevant to me and to the world,” Usher told ET of the experience, which marks his second foray into the world of Las Vegas residencies. “There’s a theatrical aspect to the show.”

“It kind of speaks to the aspect of this triple threat … and Las Vegas should celebrate all of them,” he continued. “I went to Las Vegas once and I was like, ‘Let me try to be a little more theatrical, let me bring a little bit of Broadway into it.'”

Fans can also expect new music from Usher on the horizon, as the hitmaker is gearing up to release his eighth studio album. The 43-year-old said it will be a continuation and “celebration to the story that we’ve been building throughout all of these years.”

“I try to be open, honest, vulnerable and direct with my audience,” he said. “It’s meant so much to have these songs and why they were done — they were done to help us kind of mend the things we might not necessarily want to approach, and they are hard. They’re hard to carry. And most of the time I don’t get the opportunity to talk about it in that way. So I just took the liberty to be open and vulnerable. On this album, I’m gonna do the same thing. I’m gonna open up, I’m gonna sing for you, I’m gonna give you my honest feelings.”

Select tickets and Meet and Greet passes are still available for Usher’s My Way performances, running now through October 2022.

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