Usher is laying claim to the throne.
The “King of R&B” title has long been debated, but Usher is ready to own it. During an interview with Bevy Smith on SiriusXM’s Bevelations, the veteran singer was asked if he is willing to embrace the crown.
“If you call me that, I’ll definitely carry it. I’ma tilt my crown knowing that I’m standing on the shoulders of all of the icons of our time,” he said before acknowledging those who paved the way, including Michael Jackson, James Brown, Ronald Isley, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergass, Prince, and Marvin Gaye.
The weight of the crown isn’t lost on Usher. “You wanna give me that crown, you tell me who gon’ do it better,” he said. “I am because I was given a gift, a gift that came from God that says don’t you ever forget, ’cause I don’t. When you hear my voice, you hear their voice.”
Usher, whose debut album was released 28 years ago, said he’s put in the work to earn the title. “If anything, you wanna give me my crown, I’m the last of my time,” he continued. “I’ve been working to the point where I do own that and I do deserve that. And I ain’t gon’ ask for it no more. You gon’ give it because I done worked for it.”
In the interview, the 43-year-old singer also weighed in on Diddy’s controversial statement that R&B is dead. “R&B is timeless. It ain’t gonna go away,” he said. “So when I do hear people, even like Puff saying R&B is dead, he sounds nuts to me. It sounds crazy. You know, especially knowing he was a pioneer in understanding and beneficiary of it.”
Usher explained that all music is rooted in R&B. “The source that is R&B created the breath of life that was breathed into hip-hop. It wouldn’t be. There would be no hip-hop if there were not R&B, so it’s blasphemous to hear people say anything, especially hip-hop cats, to say anything about R&B.”
The R&B icon is currently headlining his “My Way” Las Vegas residency at Dolby Live at Park MGM, which runs through next July.