Jermaine Dupri Speaks On The Meaning Behind Usher’s “Confessions”
JD spoke in detail about how the album came into play, Chilli’s reaction to it all, his personal connection to the songs and even revisited the million dollar topic of who the title track was really about..
Check out a few interview excerpts below
On the origin of the album:
When we were talking about Usher’s new album, the PR people at Arista were saying they’re not getting a lot of bites for Usher to shoot covers. I couldn’t believe this, because we just came off “U Got It Bad,” and a bunch of big records and we felt like it was his time to turn into that superstar. But we was getting a lot of resistance and even L.A. [Reid] was saying to him, “Usher, all people talk about with you are your songs now. People talk about your songs but they don’t really know Usher the artist.’”
So, that conversation was the beginning of my head wrapping around, ‘How do I create a whirlwind around Usher and make Usher something to talk about? Make people want to go deeper into the person. That was my quest. And from that point on I started watching Usher’s life closely.
On Usher’s image being too “clean” to be considered a superstar:
Part I’ was basically the beginning of how we even got to Confessions. The name of the song was ‘All Bad,’ with ‘Confessions’ in parentheses. When we first started making this album, Usher was considered a clean artist. He had hit records but he wasn’t really in the media. The media only cares about those that are doing dirt, doing crazy sh*t. Those are the guys that garner these [magazine] covers.
On not wanting “Yeah!” to make the album:
When they came out with ‘Yeah!,’ I was nervous because I was thinking, ‘Here we are with this guy’s career, having great R&B songs, and now he’s about to do something that could potentially damage what we already created.’
I was scared of the ratchetness [of “Yeah!”]”As the executive producer and producer, I’m locked into the theme of what we’re trying to make. But at the same time, I recognized it as a hit record.
By the way, at that time, crunk wasn’t cool yet. Being turnt-up and crunk, it was cool for Lil Jon, it was cool for the YoungBloodZ, it was cool for Dem Franchize Boyz, and those people that do it. But to be ratchet wasn’t the coolest thing in the world at that point yet.
I didn’t want people to feel like we were chasing that because Usher, once again, wasn’t an artist that had to follow the trends of what was going on. So I didn’t want that to come off like that’s what he was doing.
I went along with it. I felt like if DJs love it then we’ll make money—and that’s what happened.
JD also reaffirmed who “Confessions” was really about after clearing up the confusion years ago and spoke on Chilli’s reaction to the album, wanting Usher to be the next Bobby Brown and making an “Usher” alum that’s better than Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Check out more of what he had to say on the flip.
On the real meaning behind “Confessions” the song:
My whole thing was to create a ruckus. He had a girlfriend, Chilli. [I wanted to] create what girls think happens when we go to the studio. Women think it’s a party in there. They don’t think we working. I wanted everybody to start wondering: Who’s he talking about? What’s going on? Where’s this coming from? That was the goal. All that basically sums up ‘Confessions.’
‘[Confessions]Part II’ was all me, my whole life story, basically. I just had gone through ‘Part II’ in real life. ‘Part II’ was supposed to be fantasy: Usher didn’t have kids; none of these things were going on. ‘Part II’ was all me, my whole life story, basically. I just had gone through ‘Part II’ in real life, so it was like as soon as he said he wanted ‘Part II,’ the chorus was already on the edge of my lips.
[I told him] OK, well, this is very right now; I can tell you exactly what ‘Part II’ is. So it [took me] like 30 minutes to write ‘Part II.’ I didn’t know that L.A. wasn’t going to put ‘Part I’ on the album. ‘Part I’ to me is a song that actually sums up the entire album. It set the tone for the title and it connected the rest of the songs on the album to make us feel like we had a full product.
On Chilli thinking the album was about her at one point:
I think [Usher] loved [the song] because it was mysterious. And even though ‘Part II’ was my story, it still was mysterious for him because if you got a girlfriend and you tell her you got a girl on the side who’s got a baby, it creates this mystique.
It was so mysterious that Chilli actually started believing it. She started believing that these songs were about her. I heard her do an interview one day and she was talking about it like we wrote about her. No, no way. [Laughs]
On wanting Usher to be the next Bobby Brown:
When we first put Usher out, we was chasing Bobby Brown, like with My Way. And that’s what I’m saying all of this was one long story because we all came from the same place.
[When] we did My Way we were out to try to do a better album than [Bobby Brown’s] Don’t Be Cruel. In the midst of that, the hardest thing on that album was ‘My Way.’
On Usher’s mom being concerned about having Lil Kim on his previous album:
It was crazy because, when we first started this, I put Lil’ Kim on My Way and Usher’s mom was concerned about the language. This journey came from a whole different place, for us to get him on a record with Lil Jon just felt like, ‘Oh man, we might be doing something crazy.’ The song was incredible but it didn’t have anything to do with Confessions.
On creating an Usher album that’s bigger than “Thriller:”
We still have a left off piece of this story to finish. Me and him started this journey and we talked about trying to become big music and make an album bigger than Thriller. I believe we still have an opportunity to do that. He just has to want it inside himself.
So it sounds like Janet was on her ride-or-die chick steez hard back in the day since “Confessions” dropped in 2004 & they didn’t break up until 2009.
Nevertheless, it’s no wonder Confessions turned out to be such a great album with all that went into creating it, riiiiggght?