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Meaning of ‘My Boo’ by ‘USHER’ feat. Alicia Keys

Released: 2004

Features: Alicia Keys

“My Boo” is a heartfelt ode by Usher and Alicia Keys to the one who has always held their heart – their “boo”. In the song, the artists look back in nostalgia at a deep, young love, an affection that never really faded, even with distance and time. It’s a track drenched in the sweet melancholy of what was but cannot be, yet acknowledges the tenderness of those emotions that remain.

The song begins with: ‘There’s always that one person that will always have your heart.’ Predominantly, ‘boo’ is a hip-hop term, used as an endearing way to refer to a girlfriend or boyfriend. The lyrics never really specify this figure as a romantic partner, but it’s the context of the entire song that makes it unquestionably a confiding testimony about a past lover. When Usher sings, ‘You never see it coming ’cause you’re blinded from the start’, he’s saying how love can catch you off guard, sweeping you off your feet before you even realize it.

The lyrics then transition into nostalgia, with Usher and Keys each recounting their first kisses with their respective ‘boos’. The phrase ‘Put your lips like this’ suggests an exploration of budding feelings and desire. The mention of fame in ‘Even before all the fame and people screaming your name’ highlights that their feelings were unconditionally real, untouched by the glitz and glamour of celebrity life.

Now, onto the problematic side of things. ‘Now another brother’s taken over, but it’s still in your eyes…’ signifies a reality check. That young love didn’t last, and their ‘boos’ now belong to somebody else. Yet, they hint that there are still lingering feelings, a hint of yearning observable in their eyes. The use of ‘brother’ here is a hip-hop cultural reference, meaning another man, not necessarily a sibling.

Despite the distance, arguments, and lack of contact, both Usher and Alicia make it evident that those feelings have not dissipated. Their ‘boos’ hold a place in their hearts, and they can’t hide it. The lines ‘And even though there’s another man who’s in my life’ and ‘And even though there’s another man in my life’ suggest they’ve moved on, but the emotional connection with their ‘boo’ is still there, a phantom limb of affection.

The repetition of ‘I don’t know about y’all, but I know about us and uh… It’s the only way we know how to rock’ serves as a refrain bringing the focus back to their unique bond of togetherness. It highlights their personal journey, irrespective of what others might think or perceive. To ‘rock’ in hip-hop lingo, means to perform or exist in a confident way.

Finally, the repeated ‘my boo’, like a mantra, reinforces the deep-seated feelings they have for their former beloveds. This constant callback to the past and the term ‘my boo’ highlights the enduring nature of their emotions, despite the passage of time and the presence of new relationships in their lives.

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