Usher, photographed at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, with sons Naviyd (left), two, and Usher V, three.
“When you put the passion between a man and a woman up against having children, it doesn’t hold a candle. I’ve never known passion like what my children have helped me feel,” says divorced dad Usher Raymond IV, who shares custody of sons Usher V and Naviyd with ex-wife Tameka Foster. Of course, there are more practical considerations. “Mine was a little more of a rock star’s world before. When you have to childproof your house, everything changes—your furniture selection, your car selection,” he explains. “You become a lot more conscious, or at least I did.” Today the No. 1 hit in the House of Usher is the theme song to Thomas the Tank Engine. As for his own music, the R&B singer insists that the title of his most recent album, Raymond v. Raymond, refers not to his divorce but to his competing personas: the rock star and the family man. Both were partying hard on his 32nd birthday in October. “I’m here sitting by the pool with my kids just enjoying the simple moments of life,” he told me from Los Angeles, where his kids had flown from their home in Atlanta to see him. “And then later on tonight I’ll have a party, the kids will go to bed, and the other Raymond will come out.”