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Usher Slams Anyone Who Told Him ‘R&B Is Dead’

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Some fans have been quick to declare R&B “dead,” while Usher has continued to push back against that narrative. And with Grammy-winning stars such as SZA, Victoria Monét and Coco Jones emerging, the R&B dignitary feels the genre is in a great place moving forward.

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In a new Billboard cover story by Gail Mitchell, Usher salutes the next generation of R&B artists and says that anyone who ever doubted the genre is off.

“I’m very happy that there’s a new installation of R&B artists who care to be authentic to what they are creating, inspired by artists of the past,” he said. “Everybody who has ever said to me that R&B is dead sounds crazy. Especially when I know the origins of R&B are in all other genres of music.”

“My point is, I never felt like R&B was dying,” Usher doubles down before detailing the evolution of R&B within the ever-changing landscape of the music industry in the streaming era. “I think it just needs expansion. We’re moving toward a standard where people are looking at snippets — TikTok, Instagram and other things — and when fans get it, they take it and do something with it. But if we start to think of it that way and create from that place, the standards for R&B will change. You won’t be able to compare it in an old-versus-new way. It’ll just be what it is.”

The hitmaker offers up another interesting take when it comes to R&B, which he believes needs a commerce makeover for fans to enjoy more tangible items associated with the genre.

“It’s about creating commerce in other spaces. Lovers & Friends is a successful R&B festival that gives you a place to go and celebrate the songs that we make,” he added. “We need things that you associate with R&B that you can buy into. Like with hip-hop — glasses, clothes, cars, jewelry, sneakers … ancillary things that people can access. R&B needs and has the potential to have those things as well.”

February is shaping up to be a banner month for the “Yeah” singer, as Usher will deliver his ninth studio album, Coming Home, on Friday (Feb. 9).

“Every album offers a bit of where I was in my life and what I felt I wanted to share. But this is the first time that I’ve ever felt so comfortable to just be where I am,” he tells Billboard of his upcoming release. “I’m 100% in my skin. And after 30 years, it shouldn’t even be a question about whether this is going to be greater than something in my past. … I’m not thinking of this album in comparison to anything other than what it is: uniquely its own.”

Two days after Coming Home arrives, Usher’s historic weekend will continue when he takes over Sin City to perform at the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium on CBS.

Read the Usher cover story in full here.

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Hot 100 First-Timers: Conner Smith Debuts With Country Hit ‘Creek Will Rise’

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