I think during what you’d call your lowest point, R&B was very much dance-centric. Did you feel that was your weakness back then?
That was something everybody wanted to see. I still don’t understand why to be an R&B artist you have to dance. Throughout my whole career, one thing I’ve stayed true to—with compromise here and there—is being true to myself and being honest.
Interesting that you say that, because I think you’re the only male R&B singer who has yet to experiment with the euro-dance trend…
What you have are artists who want to attain success, and if that’s what’s playing on the radio, why not make that record. And a lot of people that say they’re gonna stay true to themselves will take a loss in that. It’s like Auto Tune two years ago. But what happens is you have a whole genre of music that may die because it’s depending on a trend. So I think at this point, my album and what I’m doing means so much more to music than people understand.
Did anyone ever approach you about doing a song like that? Do you like any of the records that have come out?
That ain’t for me. I get them and I like some of them, but everything ain’t for everybody, man. I’m very much an urban artist.
So if your professional life took a crash, you wouldn’t jump on the euro train for the sake of strategy?
[Pause] No, because once you go so far outside your [comfort zone]… “Can’t Help But Wait?” Good record. I can sing it. I can wear that. I’m cool with that. You know what I mean? Uh… [Imitates Euro beat]? I couldn’t go that far. ‘Cause once you really go there, how do you come back? Where’s the base? We don’t believe you anymore. You’re confused.
Were you surprised at all to hear “OMG?”
Nah, because I know what Usher’s doing. He put out two urban records before that, “Daddy’s Home” and “Little Freak.” And you’ve never seen Usher shoot that many videos or work that many singles at one time.
What was Usher doing then?