With his new album, Looking 4 Myself out this week, Usher recently touched on music that has influenced him as well as the artists he has inspired. In an interview for an upcoming issue of The Fader, Usher shared how much Hip Hop has been a part of his work and how he feels he’s impacted artists like Drake.
“When you have producers like 40, producers like Diplo, they understand the history and you always hear a little bit of a homage of the early ’90s in their music,” he said, of how he’s incorporated Hip Hop into his music. “That was kind of like a high point for me as an artist, but also in terms of what was influencing all of us, be it Wu-Tang, be it Bad Boy in the era of Bad Boy, or Death Row, Souls of Mischief or whatever it may be, or Sade, or any of those influences and those people that were very large at that time. All those mixtures work, because here you have the babies of that era that are now creating, and they’re creating based off what they feel.”
Usher also added that he “made it okay to rap over ballads,” citing the influence he’s had on emcees like Drake.
“Drake has made it—well I mean, go back, I made it okay to rap over ballads. So I guess even the creation of artists like Drake, having been an inspiration for those artists, I guess that was my style at one point. And as I begin to create other things and go in other directions, it still was great inspiration for them. So when you hear music like Drake or music that 40 and them create, I feel great about it. I love it and I wanted to participate in it, but I didn’t think that I needed as many features because the music doesn’t call for it. Rick Ross was one on ‘Lemme See.’ I felt like that would complement the record and make it better and it was a surprise.”
With Atlanta influencing his own style, Usher was also asked about collaborating with Outkast. Usher mentioned that he’s tried in the past but that he’s also missed out on some great opportunities for himself.
“I tried. Not many people know this, that that was the first crew I ran with. Me and Big Boi—it’s some shit I really fucking regret, man. Yeah, Big Boi had reached out to L.A. [Reid] and Kawan Prather [then both at LaFace Records] about getting me on ‘I Like the Way You Move,’ and at the time—I don’t know—I just made a bad decision not to get on the record. Sleepy [Brown] ended up doing the record, but every time I hear it I always say, Damn, that’s a boat missed.”
More from the article can be read at The Fader but the full interview will be released in their next issue.