We're Totally Missing… Late 1990s Slow Jam Usher


(YouTube)

Before Usher was elevated to a "whole new level of crunk" after the 2004 release of his sizzling club banger "Yeah!", he was the smooth-crooning, soulful king of 1990s R&B. Usher (or Ursher as you might remember) rose to fame in 1997 following the release of his second studio album My Way. The album featured the likes of Jermaine Dupri, Monica (yes, the co-culprit behind "The Boy Is Mine") and Lil' Kim, as well as production work by legendary record producer Babyface.

Don't get me wrong. When "Yeah!" hit the airwaves, it heated up my high school dance days (I mean, who wasn't attempting to make their booty clap at Lil' Jon's commanding?). Yet there will always be something about 1990s Usher that for me is way more raw, more silky smooth, more soul-stirring. For a girl barely in her teens at the time when his platinum-selling singles "You Make Me Wanna," "My Way," and "Nice & Slow" were released, Usher (and his impressively chiseled abs) were revelations. 

"You Make Me Wanna... "
Usher's My Way lead single "You Make Me Wanna" apparently "put the spice back in the word relationship.'" Indeed, the orange silk shirt blowing in the wind, the skin-tight skull cap, and, by God, those impeccably sultry and equally as suggestive dance moves (with the classic chair props!) was enough to make your heart race. This is 18-year-old Usher at his best. 


"Nice & Slow"
Usher followed up "You Make Me Wanna..." with the über sexy "Nice & Slow," which gave him his first #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. Hands down "Nice & Slow" is the cream of the crop of baby making music, the track you put on when you wanna get freaky. But trust, my old school dorky self wasn't getting freaky. Thus, I was way more amazed by the fish-eye close-ups of Usher's crotch and his sexy guitar playing at the base of the Eiffel Tower.
 

"My Way" 
The video for my favorite Usher single "My Way," featured the singer as a sort of rogue pirate ringleader of an amusement part posse and Tyrese, in head-to-toe denim, as the villain who tries to steal Usher's chick. Equally as good, however, was how "My Way" was probably the first track that referenced beeping pagers I attempted to rap along with.
 

The Faculty and She's All That
Of course, Usher's late 90s success opened up doors to an acting career. After a brief stint on Brandy's Moesha, it was time for his big screen debut in the teen sci-fi horror film The Faculty. The king of smooth followed up with a role as an energetic high school maestro in She's All That — Not as smooth as "Nice & Slow" but still equally as entertaining. 


I'm the editorial director of Zimbio. Instagram: @anela_bella Twitter: @laniconway
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