Usher has stepped up to defend the honor of R&B. During an interview with SiriusXM's Bevelations' Bevy Smith, the R&B superstar challenged Diddy's controversial claim that R&B music was dead. "When I hear people say stuff like, 'What happened to R&B?' or 'R&B is dead,' it's not, you just don't understand the basis of it," Usher said. "How can something come out 20-some-odd years ago and all of a sudden have a resurgence in a way that people just want to talk about it, sing it, enjoy it?"
The artist explained that hip-hop would not exist without R&B. "R&B is timeless. It ain't gonna go away. So when I do hear people, even like Puff saying R&B is dead, he sounds nuts to me. It sounds crazy. You know, especially knowing he was a pioneer in understanding and beneficiary of it. The source that is R&B created the breath of life that was breathed into hip-hop. It wouldn't be. There would be no hip-hop if there were not R&B, so it's blasphemous to hear people say anything, especially hip-hop cats, to say anything about R&B."
In defense of Diddy (real name Sean Combs), Smith argued that he was likely trying to promote his upcoming R&B album and wasn't being serious. "If you really want to make something happen, I say celebrate it more than decline it," Usher responded. "If anything, why don't you take two minutes to really recognize the cats that are doing and give them that recognition and celebration?"
Usher noted that R&B is the foundation of all music while name-checking "little brother" Chris Brown, Pharrell, Dr. Dre, and Justin Bieber. "When I heard [Bieber] do songs like 'Peaches,' he gets it. It lives forever," he said. He also slammed Diddy for possibly sparking the "R&B is dead" discourse to hype his upcoming hits battle with Jermaine Dupri in Atlanta. "Y'all don't live without R&B. Neither one of y'all," he said. "If this a thirst trap moment or you trolling, keep that s– in the comment section. I'm not f– with none of that."
Last week, Chris Brown also lashed out at the idea that R&B needs saving. "THESE N– SAYING R&B IS DEAD??? WATCH YOUR MOUTH N–… IT AINT DEAD," he wrote in an Instagram Story. "ALOT OF PEOPLE ARE DEAF TO WHAT Real MUSIC IS… DAMN, NEAR EVERY RAPPER WANNA BE A SINGER."
Following the backlash, Diddy later tweeted that his intention wasn't to offend anyone. "It's been 3 days of the debate…This is the clarity of the message… It's not disrespect to anybody," he wrote. "This conversation was out of love and me purposely wanting to bring attention to R&B! It was something that I saw the effect of the Hip hop and R&B balance. That balance is honesty and realness when it comes together, melodies, vulnerability and most importantly, LOVE!!!"