The stars were in attendance in the moments leading up to the highly anticipated tribute to Usher during the 2024 BET Awards.

Blavity caught up with longtime friends and supporters of Usher Raymond IV ahead of his Lifetime Achievement Award during the star-studded event.

“I mean, it’s been 20-plus years for us,” Bryan-Michael Cox said of his relationship with Usher. Together, they co-wrote hit songs “Burn” and “Confessions Part II,” among other notable tracks from the beloved R&B crooner.

“Nobody really knows… We’ve grown as men together,” the renowned producer continued. “We’ve experienced a lot together through music and through that bond of music. We went from being young whippersnappers with no children and no responsibilities to grownups with kids and all kinds of things going on. I think it’s just been a great progression. It’s a beautiful journey. All of us as men — me, him, Jermaine Dupri — I think that it’s just been a great journey for us.”

Legendary music duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis also spoke of their excitement to witness Usher receive his well-earned and overdue flowers, noting that his “Simple Things” track describes the current season of their lives.

“It’s great to be home, great to be in the neighborhood, and great to celebrate all the people we don’t get a chance to see year-round when making music,” they shared.

As for “Simple Things” being the theme song for their lives right now, the pair also had a hand in co-writing the track featured on Usher’s critically acclaimed Confessions album.

“I’m gonna go with ‘Simple Things’ for the simple things in life. He wrote the lyrics,” Lewis said of his partner in crime, Jimmy Jam. “I gotta go listen to that song now. It’s some great lyrics on that song, and it is about the simple things in life. Just appreciate what you have around you before you lose it.”

R&B singer Vedo, one of Usher’s proteges, said watching his mentor-turned-friend and brother receive his flowers speaks to all of the things that fans don’t see when it comes to reaching the level of superstardom that Usher has managed to achieve within his 30-year-span in the industry.

“Everything takes time,” Vedo said. “I think you shouldn’t rush anything, but I think that he deserves this now because it’s what he does that people don’t see. Everybody glorifies everything that you see him doing in the limelight. Usher has an extensive track record of doing things that aren’t seen, and I think that goes unnoticed, and people should understand the greatness that he has given to this industry and also the music and to the people, artists like myself.”

The tribute garnered mixed reviews due to the absence of male R&B acts and featured performances primarily led by the R&B girlies, who currently have the game on lock.

Childish Gambino kicked off the performance with an acoustic rendition of “U Don’t Have to Call” before Keke Palmer took the stage, living out her childhood dreams with her version of “You Make Me Wanna.”

Other acts featured in the tribute to the culture’s R&B king included Coco Jones, who sultrily sang “There Goes My Baby,” giving Usher a taste of his own medicine by pulling him out of his seat to engage in the performance and including his wife, Jennifer Goicoechea, in the mix. Summer Walker also performed her verse from “Good Good,” featured on Usher’s latest album, Coming Home.

Tinashe and Marsha Ambrosius took to the stage to honor Usher, as did Latto, who performed Ludacris’ verse on “Yeah!”

The standout moment from the tribute was Teyana Taylor and Victoria Monét’s rendition of Usher and Beyoncé’s 2004 dance performance of “Bad Girl” during his Truth Tour.

Check out the full Usher tribute below: