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Usher Takes A Stand… or at least… Does it Standing Up
Mixed Messages from His New Album
An article from David R. Smith at TheSource4YM.com
6/13/2008

Hypothetically. You just got married and became a parent for the first time, and you wanna release an album about your new life. Would your descriptions include “making love in a club,” or getting it on with your significant other by “trading places” sexually?

Well, Usher’s new album does…and it’s a hit!

R&B phenom Usher just released his latest album entitled Here I Stand. Concerning the autobiographical work, he says, “This album is about that transformation from a guy who was a hustler, a player — a guy who could have any woman he wanted and chose to take advantage of certain situations.” But with the mixed messages in his lyrics, especially those about having sex in a club with an unknown woman, many are asking just how committed this superstar playa-turned-devoted-husband plans on being.

Ushering In…
In case the only usher you know is the person who collects the offering every Sunday morning at your church, let me introduce you to Usher Raymond IV, a very sexy 29 year old R&B sensation, who’s known for creating melodic “baby-making” music, and sporting rock hard abs in the process. He’s released four previous albums, sold 30,000,000 copies of them, and taken home 5 Grammy’s along the way. In over a decade of making music, he’s had twelve Top 10 singles, including eight #1 hits, with Love In This Club being the latest. When he’s not in the studio, he manages both the NBA team and record label that he owns.

It’s been four years since he released his last album, Confessions, which made history with 1.1 million records selling in the first week. In the time off, he married his former stylist, Tameka Foster, a woman 12 years his senior, and fathered a child with her, Usher Raymond V. He also recently fired his “mom-ager,” opting for new leadership for his new vision and album.

New Music For A New Life?
Usher says of his former life, “I was just looking for good times. In the club. Not living right. This woman. That woman. Uncertain. Unsure.... But there does come a time when you start thinking, ‘Who's gonna love me and take care of me when I'm down? Who's gonna care about making sure that I'm okay?’ I need a companion. Damn.”

It’s from this sentiment that Usher produces his new album. We Googled excerpts from three songs off the album; see for yourself if these lyrics portray an Usher who has settled down and is serious about faithfulness in marriage.
    Love In This Club
    I wanna make love (in this club in this club, in this club)…
    On the couch, on the table, on the bar, on the floor.
    You can meet me in the bathroom, you know I'm trained to go…
    Might as well give me a kiss, if we keep touching like this
    I know you're scared, baby, they don't know what we're doing.
    Let's both get undressed right here, keep it up girl, and, I swear.
    I'm gonna give it to you non-stop.
    And I don't care, who's watching.


    This Ain’t Sex
    Baby I can't wait to get you up in my room
    Baby first let me go and set up the mood (set up her mood)
    And I'm gonna do you up and then, I'm gonna do you down
    I'm gonna have that body baby floating all around
    And all you gotta do is get close to me
    Bring it all to me, it's going down
    Yeah, we ain't havin’ sex
    We're making moments that will outlast the world (talking about our love)
    And This ain't sex
    This is the symbol of the true makings in love


    Trading Places
    I’m always on the top tonight I’m on the bottom Coz we trading places
    When I can’t take no more, tell me you ain't stopping Coz we trading places
    Now put it on me baby till I say Oooo weee
    And tell me to shut up before the neighbors hear me
    This is how it feels when you do it like me
    We trading places
    Gon get it, get it get it, get it get it,
    Gon get it, get it get it, get it get it,
    Gon get it, get it get it, get it get it,
    We trading places stay tuned for part 2
    You been me I been you but we gon switch this thing back
    Ima put it on your ---
Usher claims that this album is about a transformation from ‘playa’ to husband. The question is… are kids really getting that message?

The Real Message
So, what message will millions of teen listeners hear when they download Usher’s new music onto their mp3 players? (The album has already topped “iTunes Top Albums” downloaded, and just recently vacated the #1 spot on Billboard.com.) Can Usher’s subliminal message of fidelity and family escape his fog of sex-saturated lyrics and actually help a young generation form committed, monogamous relationships?

It’s a risky gamble, at best. Why not go with a no-brainer source, instead?

The Bible has much to say about faithfulness, and it also teaches about love that’s pure and life-changing. Finally, it reveals exactly how we can experience personal transformation through Christ that’s completely void of any concession to personal purity.

These two sources of teaching beg us to ask ourselves, “Which one do we want informing our kids about commitment and family and marriage?”

Taking Our Stand
Usher is selling millions of albums telling kids where he stands on important issues. We must share with kids where we stand on the same issues, even if our message never goes platinum. So, what’s your message?

  1. Ask students what they think about music in general. You will be amazed at what you discover concerning their beliefs about music. TheSource4YM.com has one report on teens’ music and the influence they perceive it has over them. Interestingly, even Usher recognizes how influential the music scene can be. In a recent interview regarding his new album, he said, “But you have to be very careful about what you allow your kids to be around or see. I'm a product of the environment.” So, find out where they stand, and then…

  2. Teach your kids the necessity of making holistic choices regarding their music. Music is like a friend to many teens; it’s the almost constant influence they are under. Just like having a bad friend can corrupt them, listening to the wrong music can corrupt them. Plus, recent studies have confirmed that sex-laden lyrics are a factor in teens becoming sexually active much earlier in life. Offer them biblical standards that help guide them in their music selection.

The “transformation” that Usher claims to sing about on his new album offers us a fantastic launching pad for conversations about “biblical transformation.” If we seize this opportunity, we may just help students take their stand in life.

David R. Smith David R. Smith is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year, Ministry By Teenagers. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org. David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.



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