Bryan-Michael Cox Talks about his Usher Classics
It’s not often that you get to talk to a Grammy-award winning, multi-platinum producer for over an hour. In this part two of our exclusive interview with Bryan-Michael Cox, we talk about the many, many hits he created with Usher. We even get him to answer what his favorite Usher song is.
BMC: You can’t have a conversation about R&B in the last 20 years and not talk about Usher. I think people try to play Usher off because he has a youthful spirit, he looks young. He started when he was a baby, so he still is young. I think people undermine the work he’s put in just because he’s still so young.
RNB Magazine: How did you and Usher come to work together?
BMC: How me and Usher came to work together was I was actually working with Jagged Edge & we were writing for other people. So we went and played them for Jermaine, and he said “oh this sounds like an album, who wrote these songs” and they say “oh some kid named B Cox”. Long story short, I ended up meeting with Jermaine and ended up finishing the Jagged Edge album with Jermaine. So after those sessions, me and Jermaine just kind of clicked heavy and the next artist we were working with was Mariah. The album we were working on was Rainbow. There’s a song on Rainbow called “How Much”, it was a duet with her and Usher, and that was actually my first time writing and working with Usher.
Usher was one my favorite artists, still is one of my favorite artists but at the time he was one of the only artists I wanted to work with. Him and a few other people; Usher, Aaliyah, Toni Braxton and Faith Evans. That was the short list but Usher was at the top of the short list. So when I got to work with him on the Mariah thing, I thought to myself, “Damn, I sure hope he calls me to work on his next project” and sure enough Jermaine called me to work with him on 8701 and that was how I started working with Usher. My first time writing, my first impression, I learned a valuable lesson our first session for that album and the lesson was the song is in the conversation.
What I watched Jermaine do, him and Usher would have a conversation and whatever the conversation was, Jermaine would take it and turn it into a song. It becomes a direct reflection of the conversation. Up until then I was just writing for the sake of writing, just how I was feeling. I was an extremely emotional writer. Music came to me fast, but songs didn’t come quite fast enough because I’m a method writer. I have to be going through something to write something really profound, like going through some shit. But in that session, I learned “oh shit, there’s a song everywhere”, so if you have a conversation with somebody there’s a song in that. It doesn’t always have to be about me and my personal issues. It can be about other people’s issues and I learned a valuable lesson that’s stuck with me since then. So the first song we did for that album was “You Got It Bad” and that’s how it started for me.
RNB Magazine: What’s your favorite Usher song?
BMC: “U Got It Bad.” Because I like the simplicity of the production. The intimacy of his vocals because there’s not a lot of harmonies and shit it’s just him, and I like the guitar solo. At the time, I mean people still don’t put guitar solos, but at that time it was definitely like…LA said “we should probably take the guitar out”. People were like “I don’t really know about the guitar solo” but it came off because he did the video and the dance break and all that so it really came off, so I was glad that they left it & kept the guitar part in there.