Twenty years ago, Usher confessed his way to the bestselling album of his career — and the bestselling album by a Black artist in the 21st century.

The singer’s fourth album, Confessions, arrived March 23, 2004. It stemmed from Usher’s desire for fans to get to know him as a person. As he said at the time, “All of us have our Pandora’s boxes or skeletons in our closets. I let a few of them out, you know. I’ve got a lot to say.”

That being said, not all the tracks on the album were actually things that had happened to him in real life. “Burn” was definitely about his relationship with TLC‘s Chilli, but “Confessions Pt. II” — in which Usher famously sang, “My chick on the side said she got one on the way” — was based on something that happened to producer Jermaine Dupri.

When Confessions was released, it sold an incredible 1.1 million copies in its first week — on its way to becoming the bestselling album of 2004. To date, it’s sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. 

It also debuted at #1, becoming Usher’s first chart-topping album, and produced the #1 hits “Yeah!,” “Burn,” “Confessions Pt. II” and “My Boo” as well as the top 10 hit “Caught Up.”

In 2020, Billboard called Confessions “the blueprint for all your favorite stars to come” and cited Drake, Miguel, Chris Brown and Omarion as artists who’ve all said they were influenced by Usher.

Confessions made Usher a global superstar and won him three Grammys, four American Music Awards and 11 Billboard Music Awards.

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