Usher: The Dude Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name
It was probably when we got kicked out of Usher's show at House Of Blues in late 2008 that Rocks Off realized we were bigger fans of the R&B singer than we imagined. The show and tour was billed as "Ladies Only," and after we were done taking pictures of the first three songs we wanted to stay, but the security detail - his own, actually - assumed we had other plans that night and hastened us on our way.
Our Usher fandom is something we hadn't made terribly public until tonight's concert at Toyota Center was announced a few months back. It's not that we were embarrassed, it was just that it's "girls stuff" - the kind of music chicks listen to when they take those imaginary candle-lit bubble baths that most guys think they do.
Maybe he's accessible to dumb, sorta-white guys like me who like slow jams but don't advertise it on shirts, but you know what? If we ever found the right Usher shirt we would wear it once a week, maybe even all day on a Saturday.
We guess the first song that made us say "Right on, Usher" was "Trading Places" from his 2008 album Here I Stand, where he sings about making the woman pick him up and open doors for him, wine and dine him, and take him on shopping sprees.
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Something about it was hilarious, a song about a woman treating a man the way all of us try to treat them. It went against everything our sad-boy culture had ever taught us, and it was liberating in a sense to hear someone saying, "Look, I did my part, why not pamper me for once?"
Not that we would ever say things like to a woman. Maybe Usher is our romantic Tyler Durden. Or maybe we are "bro" like everyone says - is there such a thing as "bro-dar"?
Then "Confessions" from 2004's album of the same title hit us, and it was this crazy two-parter about having a baby with the chick on the side while you have a regular girl. The album also had the gawdawful "Yeah!", but we just pass that up. "Confessions" is a sadly universal song.
But at the end of the day, we can listen to Usher endlessly in the car and at work, but we will still feel like a fat kid at the 8th-grade dance if we ever come near a dance club. But for those minutes alone with "Lil Freak" in the car in the morning instead of the right-wing screamers we usually listen to, we feel like the smoothest black man you ever met.
We guess Usher says the things we wish could say, like "I'm like Kemo sabe, your body is my hobby" but will never have the balls or the dance moves to say with any adequate swagger. No one will ever let us say "You tugging my front, I'm squeezing ya butt" without feeling the cold embrace of a pair of keys to the face or a social-media shaming.
But Usher Raymond can get away with not only that, and even giving the world Justin Bieber, and still be the coolest dude ever to ever have a recurring role on Moesha.