Did you fear that Raymond v Raymond would flop?
Absolutely not. I knew how dedicated I was to the process. I learned a lot about people in making Here I Stand… People felt like because of where I was in my life, and maybe them not understanding who I am, they viewed it as a failure. But it isn’t.
That was a drastic transition from confessions, where you’re talking about infidelity.
I was talking about infidelity on Here I Stand as well. I think that the personal choice of marriage, children, was a different Usher that people weren’t accustomed to seeing. I can’t explain or apologize for it. Whatever artist you may enjoy listening to, there’s a full range in terms of the arc of their story. There were many chapters to Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, many chapters to their story.
Did marriage make you lose your edge?
Nah, I don’t think so. I think it taught me. I think it made me better, to be honest.
The song “papers” was written before you and Tameka split up [in June 2009]. How long were you thinking about divorce?
During our disagreements, that’s when I really began to contemplate marriage and if this is someone whom I’m compatible with. Anytime we had a disagreement or an argument, I began to contemplate: Wow, is this really gonna work out? I’m going through hell right now, given the fact that people have an opinion about our relationship. I can’t be unhappy at home and fighting the wars or the opinions outside… “You should’ve handled things this way,” “I wish you would’ve said this,” “You’re handling me wrong,” “I don’t like the way I’m feeling about this”—it could be anything, man.
Why not stay together for the kids?
Because they would only be looking at a product of something that I’m tolerating or she’s tolerating. I don’t wanna be tolerated. I wanna be loved. I don’t want to tolerate someone. I wanna love them. And I can love Tameka for who she is, but I don’t have to necessarily be in a relationship with her.
Is it unfair for somebody on your level to speak on the divorce when she doesn’t really have a voice?
I think that artists speak about what they go through, and that’s really the only way that they can articulate themselves to their audiences, right? I think people have definitely been unfair in giving her the shorter end of the stick because maybe she wasn’t ideal. She wasn’t the type of woman that people maybe wanted for me.
Did you recognize that ahead of time?
I knew that there would be some issues in relation to me making the decision to be married. Because I was a single man and my audience is primarily women. I hoped that they would be under- standing that the fantasy ain’t done. I’m not taking myself away from you to the point where we don’t have our connection. Our connection is through mu- sic. I still have a job [laughs], and my job is to entertain. But yeah, I definitely feel like people give her a much harder time than they should.
I kept reading about her being controlling and un- attractive. having this woman that you’re proud of but people don’t see that, how did that make you feel as a man?
I hated that people weren’t accepting of my marriage. I hated it, yeah. But I think it’s a deeper conversation. Because as a Black man looking at other Black women be mad at a Black woman, that definitely hurt me.
Why didn’t your mom support you getting married?
Uh… I don’t know.
You’ve never talked about it?
My mother, uh, I guess she has her own reasons. But that wasn’t for me to worry about. This is my life, and
I think that parents should be able to have unconditional love for their children and their decisions, regardless of how they feel. Of course they may not be necessarily supportive, but it’s not their life. At that point they have to take their hands off.
Did you feel like her love wasn’t unconditional?
I never questioned my mother’s passion for me; maybe [her] passion for my decision—and that’s obvious. She didn’t show up at my wedding.
How did you feel about that?
I was very disappointed. I wouldn’t do that to my child. Me and my mother are very close, and have al- ways been. I couldn’t think of a greater time to show support, ’cause it’s a very hard decision, period, to take that walk.
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