Interview by { Bekah Wright
Photography by { JOHN RUSSO
Styling by { Gali Barra
Hair by { Curtis Smith
Grooming by { Cole Patterson

Over the course of Usher’s lifetime, the singer/songwriter has been nominated for 417 awards and brought home 146, including eight Grammys and eight American Music Awards. The Dallas native has made other inroads as well: Chattanooga’s Usher Raymond Parkway was named after him, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He acts, co-owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has an entrepreneurial drive that’s prompted him to launch a new fragrance and design a shoe line. What makes this music man’s heart beat faster? Read on.

 What inspires you?
To me, sacrifice is what makes us human. I think it’s the rent we pay on this planet to exist, to be able to help other people if we can.

Growing up, what kind of future did you envision for yourself?
My goal was to have longevity and be versatile. If I could find a way to connect people through a musical experience, I would have succeeded. Stevie Wonder and his appeal to many generations is a perfect example of this. Not only was I interested in his music as a kid, so were my mom and grandmother. Having that kind of broad connection was my goal.

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Strivers achieve what dreamers believe.

What advice would you give your younger self?
The journey is the destination. I think I’ve been able to live by that, but if I could tell myself at a younger age to be mindful of the decisions that you make, and maybe be a little bit more selfish. Take time for yourself.  Take care of your body. There’s something brilliant and genuine in having time by yourself. I used to think being around people and having things made me happy. The ideas, opinions and influence of other people aren’t always good.  It took growing older to realize time spent being quiet and alone allowed me to listen to my inner voice and to stay on the right path.

Most memorable trip?
The greatest journey has been the one inside—the trip into myself.  Recognizing beauty in the now. Because of this, no matter where I am, I’m able to enjoy what’s around me.

Where do you feel most at home?
In the shower. There’s something about the water and heat that provide a disconnection and allow me to just be in the moment.

Do you sing in the shower?
Sometimes. Acoustics are way better in there.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I keep cookies and candy in my pocket. I’m addicted to sweets.

What’s currently on your nightstand?
Photos of my niece and two sons, crystals, a Daniel Arsham art piece and a stand for a wireless phone I can’t find anywhere in the house.

What terrifies you?
Loss of control.

Of all of your songs, which means the most to you and why?
“My Way,” because it was the first time I took my career in my own hands and spoke through my own voice. “Burn,” because it represented the hardest experience I’ve ever had to go through, something I was able to convey through a song. “Climax,” because it was the first time—through collaboration with Diplo and Ariel Rechtshaid—I was able to bring all of the worlds I’d influenced together in one song through music and lyrics.

What keeps you grounded?
My children. They humble me.

What have they taught you?
Innocence is bliss.  And that they’re always going to be better at video games than I am because they just have more time.

What have you learned from your mother?
Listen to your parents. They really do care about your long-term health and well-being. They know shit. Trust them.

Why is it important for you to serve as a mentor
to up-and-coming artists?
I believe the lessons and opportunities I’ve been given should be shared. Hopefully, I’ll be able to save young artists some unnecessary steps and can help them be better prepared for success.

If you could change one thing about the current state of the world, what would it be?
I wish there wasn’t as much greed. I wish we could laugh more, love more and be kinder to the planet.

What’s an accessory you feel naked without?
I feel naked without clothes on… and I like it.

Do you have a go-to scent or fragrance for date nights?
I’m lucky enough to have an advance bottle of my new fragrance, Usher Homme.

What inspired Usher Homme?
I wanted to create a fragrance that makes people feel confident, but also takes them out of their comfort zone.  A scent that represents personality and aesthetic. Also, Usher Homme is a collective of aromas I’ve smelled during my travels.

Describe your scent in three words.
Confident, bold, exquisite.

What current wardrobe item do you see becoming an all-time favorite?
A high-end shoe design I’m currently working on with Louis Leeman will become an all-time favorite.

How would you describe the line’s style?
Unusual, stylish, elevated, rare.

What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?
That man operated from his heart. Totally. The way he thought, the way he functioned, the way he performed, the way he created…was from his heart. Every last bit of it.