Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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On his ambitious, soap-opera-worthy fourth LP, Usher Raymond reaches his final form.

If you have a distinct memory of 2004, then you remember how inescapable USHER’s fourth studio album was for the entirety of that year. This was Usher Raymond in his final form: No longer a boyish heartthrob under the tutelage of top producers who doubled as mentors, he’d finally reached his artistic prime.

“We wanted to create an incredible body of work that was about real deep conversation.”


The album’s title track tells an enthralling tale in which USHER has to admit to his infidelity; the song’s sequel, “Confessions, Pt. II” (a ubiquitous single), ramps up the drama when he finds out the woman he’s been cheating with is three months pregnant. The story’s closing, “Burn,” finds him mourning the relationship he obliterated.

And as affecting as that trilogy was, there are massive hits at every corner of Confessions. “Yeah!” with Lil Jon and Ludacris encapsulates the playful, hard-hitting feeling of Atlanta’s scene at the time, and “My Boo” with Alicia Keys is one of the defining duets of the 2000s. Confessions has achieved a status that few albums in the 21st century can live up to, but its influence is evident in how many have tried.