Usher’s Wild Ride
USHER RIPS A BASEBALL CAP OFF HIS HEAD, smacks it down on a dressing-room countertop and growls, “Fuck this motherfucking shit!” A minute ago, he pulled up in his silver Hummer to the Fox Theatre, the ornate 1920s palace in downtown Atlanta, to begin filming a video for his summer tour, but suddenly he started ranting and raving, then sprinted up four flights of stairs to this lounge, three paunchy crew guys trailing as he went by in a blur. They stagger to the doorway, huffing and puffing. “Motherfuckers in here now!” Usher yells.
“I’m getting here late — for real — and still nothing’s organized,” he says, his normally adorable face, still childlike at twenty-five, contorted with rage. “Venue not what it’s supposed to be, dancers all around downstairs and ain’t supposed to be: As usual, everyone’s tripping and I’m un-abreast of the motherfucking plans. Nigga’s got to do what a nigga’s got to do, and I ain’t doing it. I ain’t gonna do it.” He grabs his hat and kicks the door open. “I be out.”
Then he pops back in, smiling a goony grin: “April Fools’!
“You was gonna lose all your hair, man,” says Usher.
“You were gonna soil your pants from shit heat,” says one of the crew to another.
The April Fools’ punking has been going on all day. First Usher called his A&R rep and said a producer he once had a beef with had come by his house with a baseball bat and smashed his elaborate glass-plate front door, so he’d grabbed a gun and was driving over to his house — “I’m gonna handle this like a real man! I’m gonna kill this dude!” Next, he called a friend and told him that he was about to commit suicide because of all the pressure of his career, and then he told his mother, who is also his manager, that he wouldn’t drive an Aston Martin in the tour video, as planned, unless he had an endorsement deal — “Aston Martin think they gonna use me? Use me? I don’t think so.” He even called his publicist and said he didn’t want to do this story. “I sold millions of albums in my time and never been on the cover of ROLLING STONE before?” he says. “Shoot, I thought they don’t put black faces on those covers.”
Usher leans back in the dressing-room chair, content with the havoc he has wreaked. His body, cut like a professional tennis player’s, hums with energy, and he’s wearing jeans slung so low that you not only see the waistband of his boxers but can actually make out cheeks. His personal assistant and best friend, Keith Thomas, starts to trim his hair and the room goes quiet, the buzz of the razor and snip of the scissors all there is to hear. Then Thomas breaks up. “The best was waking Usher up this morning,” he says, snickering. “We were like, ‘Forget 1.1 million! You sold 2 million albums yesterday!’ He was all, ‘Duh, I did?'”
Usher laughs, and then he nods slowly, staring at his reflection in the mirror. “Yes, sir,” he says.