I’d planned to stay up Sunday night and write about Usher’s interview on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” right after it aired. I went to bed instead because I knew — just knew — that his ex-wife, Tameka Raymond, was going to respond to Usher’s take on their marriage if not swiftly, then deftly, and there was no sense in writing about the same issue twice. But then Tuesday night rolled around and 48 hours later, Tameka was still mum. It was unlike her. Usher and his mother didn’t hesitate to shade Tameka throughout the Oprah interview, and she has always defended her name by any means necessary.
I admitted I was wrong, then rolled around reasons Tameka might be taking the high road this time. Maybe she had given up the good fight after a judge denied her appeal for custody of the two sons she shares with her ex-husband. Maybe she just doesn’t care anymore. My best answer, though? Maybe she realized there was nothing to defend herself against. For every time in the interview that Usher made her look bad under the guise of just being honest, he unintentionally made himself look worse.
In 60 minutes, Usher never did answer a direct question with a direct answer, which was frustrating as a viewer and would be doubly so in the context of a relationship. And he seemed to spin everything into a light that made it sound less screwy than it actually was instead of just taking accountability for his shortcomings. On the subject of whether he fired his mother as his manager, he told Oprah that he didn’t, he only “relieved her of duties.” Really? On his fidelity to his wife, Usher explained, “I was faithful in heart, but not all the way” before finally admitting he cheated, but with the qualifier that it was only after they were separated. Did he actually have sex with one of Tameka’s bridesmaids, as his ex scandalously alleged? The Usher spin: “It’s always been complicated and very difficult” and “I had exchanges with her.” All that to get to “yes” and confirm that Tameka wasn’t making up that ish.
The interview actually confirmed all my suspicions about his image as the victim of an evil cougar attack, which are loosely that he wasn’t a victim at all; he just has better PR. I don’t know Tameka to gauge whether the popular and unflattering perception of her has any truth to it, but I know after watching “Oprah’s Next Chapter” that if she were the one wilding out in the marriage, she wasn’t the only one. And after his confessions, it seemed that if any of the rumors about her behavior toward him were true, he had a lot of it coming. I don’t know many women who could carry on in a civil manner with her ex-husband knowing that of all the people in the world he could have sex with, he picked her girl, one so close she was in the wedding.
Perhaps Usher’s revelations shouldn’t be so surprising to me. He is the same fellow who, in the midst of divorce proceedings, added fuel to the fire by renaming his sixth album “Raymond v. Raymond.” He’s also the same type of man who, in equally bad taste, too soon after winning primary custody of his children, posted images for public consumption of the little ones with his new lady and her family. That wasn’t accidental, coincidental, or harmless. That was cold. I thought he would have come off better “in person.” Not so much.
It takes two to tango, so the old folks say. Tameka’s spoken often about what when down between her and Usher, with little of it pretty. For doing such, she’s been characterized as angry, bitter, and unlikable. Usher’s silence on the matter has often garnered him the benefit of the doubt. He would have been better off to remain silent. There’s an Abe Lincoln quote that the old folks like to trot out: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Unfortunately, Usher’s interview with Oprah proves it true.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available for download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk.