Published Aug 25, 2016As an R&B/pop artist, Usher has had a long career that is both underrated and often overlooked. But he's actually sold more than 75 million records and is considered one of the most best-selling artists in music history.
This month's Exclaim! Timeline tracks Usher's career as an impressionable teen from Tennessee hanging out with Sean "Puffy" Combs, Biggie Smalls and the Bad Boy Crew in New York, to multi-platinum selling success in the late 1990s and early 2000s with an R&B/pop template that artists such as Justin Timberlake have followed, to functioning as mentor to Justin Bieber.
While you'll have to currently pick up an IRL paper copy of the latest issue of Exclaim! for the full Usher Timeline, here are a few of its many highlights.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Usher:
1. He got his start on 1990s television talent show Star Search.
Demonstrating an aptitude for singing, in 1990, at the tender age of 12, Usher would tour the local singing competition circuit, ultimately drawing the attention of L.A Reid of LaFace Records. "I was always the kid that would just sit by the radio at sleepovers. Kids would be like, 'Come play hide and go seek,' but I'd want to stay up and hear the slow jams on the radio because they didn't play those songs during the day," he would later tell Vibe Magazine in an 1998 interview. In 1992, he was featured on the television show Star Search as a national teen champion. After a convincing a cappella rendition of Boyz II Men's 1992 hit song "End of the Road," a record deal offer from LaFace Records happened shortly after. "Usher represents the next generation of R&B soul," Reid would later tell Billboard.
2. As a 15-year-old, Usher moved to New York to work with Sean "Puffy" Combs to record his debut album.
There are early concerns of how to best to market the chubby, cherubic looking young singer. He would experience slight issues adjusting his voice post-puberty and loses his voice for a brief period. Slightly doubtful of Usher's marketability, his record label nonetheless connects Usher and this mother — now acting as manager — with a then up-and-coming Sean "Puffy" Combs of Bad Boy Records, who takes him under his wing as his "little brother." Barely into his teens, Usher would move to New York City to record a debut project, staying in Combs's house and working with names like DeVante Swing of R&B act Jodeci and Dave "Jam!" Hall. It was an adjustment witnessing Comb's lavish home and lifestyle: "There were always girls around," Usher would tell Rolling Stone.
3. Usher has to scold Justin Bieber for his shenanigans now and then.
"Our relationship is more man-to-man now," he says of his relationship with Bieber to Billboard in 2014. "He's making his own decisions and it's important to show support. I can say I'm not happy with all the choices my friend has made, but I'm supportive of him. I try my hardest to give as much positive reinforcement as I can. I'll punch him in the chest when I need to, and give him a hug and kiss when I need to. It's more than just mentoring. I love the kid."
4. Usher has a sex tape floating out there somewhere.
TMZ in 2014 reports that an Usher sex tape featuring his at-the-time wife, Tameka Raymond is currently available and being distributed on the black market. The tape was allegedly obtained off of Usher's laptop back in 2010, when the singer's car was broken into in Atlanta. While Usher refuses to comment on the issue, TMZ also reports that his lawyer is "aggressively trying to handle the situation."
5. He is a part-owner of NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
In 2005, Usher invests a reported $9 million US for a minority stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball League. In June 2016, his stake as a minority owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers bears fruit as the LeBron James-led team wins the 2016 NBA championship.