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Who Is Usher's Brother? All About J. Lack

Usher’s brother, J. Lack, is also musically gifted

<p>Scott Gries/Getty</p> Usher and his brother James Lackey backstage during MTV

Scott Gries/Getty

Usher and his brother James Lackey backstage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios on August 14, 2006.

Over the years, Usher has crafted major hits with a variety of talented producers, including his own brother, J. Lack.

Usher, whose full name is Usher Raymond IV, is six years older than his brother, J. Lack, whose real name is James Lackey. The duo share a mother, Jonnetta Patton, and grew up together in Tennessee and Georgia.

Usher and J. Lack formed a special bond through music and have worked together on several songs, including Usher’s tracks "Boyfriend" and “Lifetime.” In addition to producing, J. Lack owns Star Studios, and Usher is one of many A-list artists who have recorded there. In October 2022, the studio’s Instagram account shared a photo of Usher seemingly in the middle of a session.

The Grammy winner and actor couldn’t be more thrilled about all of J. Lack’s accomplishments in music. During an interview with MTV in April 2007, Usher gushed, “I’m so proud of him. J. Lack has his own individuality. A lot of celebrity brothers or family members always fall in the shadows. But he is different.”

A couple of weeks before Usher was set to take the stage for the 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show, J. Lack posted a promotional image of his brother on Instagram and shared some of Usher's traits in the caption. "World Class Singer, Dancer, Father, Family First ... Generous, Ambitious ... Icon of our time," he wrote to describe his brother ahead of his big performance.

So who is Usher’s brother? Here’s everything to know about J. Lack and his relationship with the R&B star.

They grew up in the South

<p>J.Lack Instagram</p> Usher with his mother, Jonetta Patton, and his brother James "J.Lack" Lackey.

J.Lack Instagram

Usher with his mother, Jonetta Patton, and his brother James "J.Lack" Lackey.

For the first part of their childhood, Usher and J. Lack were raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There, Usher sang in the youth choir of the St. Elmo Missionary Baptist Church, which was directed by their mother.

When Patton realized that Usher had a real shot at a music career, she quit her job and moved the family to Atlanta, per The New York Times.

In October 2022, J. Lack showed his hometown some love on Instagram. He posted a few clips of him and Usher taking the stage together and wrote in his caption, “What up Vegas !!!! ATL over everything !!!!”

Usher gave J. Lack his big break

<p>Scott Gries/Getty</p> Usher and his brother James Lackey backstage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios on November 7, 2005.

Scott Gries/Getty

Usher and his brother James Lackey backstage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios on November 7, 2005.

When Usher recognized how talented his brother was, he decided to help open doors for him in the music business. J. Lack’s first big break was producing the 46-second intro to his brother’s 2004 album, Confessions.

During their 2007 MTV interview, J. Lack recalled touring with his brother and making valuable connections with industry folks along the way. “Well, at that time, my producing game wasn’t really up,” he said. “I would travel with him, go onstage, and at the end [of each concert], he would introduce me.”

The Star Studios owner explained, “Me just traveling around and just going onstage, it’s a big experience and it helps me musically, because I meet all the producers that he worked with too, like Jermaine Dupri, Dre & Vidal, they’re my dudes right there. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.”

He’s a producer and studio owner

<p>Ben Rose/WireImage</p> DJ Ruckus and James "J-Lack" Lackey.

Ben Rose/WireImage

DJ Ruckus and James "J-Lack" Lackey.

Since those days touring with his brother, J. Lack has forged his own impressive path in the music industry as a successful producer and studio owner. He’s credited on hits like Lloyd’s “Get It Shawty,” and has also produced for Sean “Diddy” Combs, Chris Brown and more. His trademark introduction on the songs he produces is, “This is a J. Lack track, man.”

Usher’s brother owns Star Studios, which, per its website, is “a place to escape the outside world. A place to feel at home and at ease. A place to come and conquer your goals. Achieve your musical dreams. A place to come to feel whole and complete. Be your best self.”

They offer audio recording, audio mixing and mastering, entertainment consulting and content marketing. A lot of well-known artists have worked at Star Studios, including Usher himself, as well as Justin Bieber, Whitney Houston and Nelly.

They appeared on MTV’s Punk’d together

<p>Ben Rose/WireImage</p> Usher Raymond and brother James "J-Lack" Lackey.

Ben Rose/WireImage

Usher Raymond and brother James "J-Lack" Lackey.

In October 2003, J. Lack pranked his brother in a hilarious episode of MTV’s Punk’d, which was co-created by Ashton Kutcher and ran for nine seasons.

In the episode, The Office star B.J. Novak posed as a Los Angeles store owner who caught J. Lack shoplifting. When Usher showed up to address the situation, he was clearly frustrated with his brother.

Novak pretended to have a grand realization about who Usher was in the middle of their interaction and exclaimed, “I didn’t know who you were! That kinda changes things.”

He offered to let the situation go in exchange for Usher recording a rap jingle for the store, and Novak proceeded to perform the preposterous and insulting idea for the singer, who was obviously offended.

“I think it would be better for you to press charges,” he responded. “I really do.” After finding out he’d been part of the MTV series, Usher playfully tackled J. Lack.

He isn’t interested in competing with Usher

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage</p> Usher and brother James Lackey during The Usher x Motorola Party.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Usher and brother James Lackey during The Usher x Motorola Party.

Although Usher and J. Lack are both musicians, they’re able to celebrate each other’s success rather than compete against each other, and they’ve worked together a number of times at Star Studios and on Usher’s music.

J. Lack pointed out to MTV in their 2007 conversation, “Well, first of all, I didn't want to follow in his footprints because I can't sing.” He recalled enjoying the saxophone, drums and keyboard as a kid and learning how to play to his strengths. “I combined that all together and just started composing beats and using different sounds,” he said. “If you listen to my music, every sound has its own pocket and its own feeling.”

He further explained that he isn’t concerned about escaping his brother’s “shadow," stating, "I don't think about it. I just live life. That's my brother, that's my family, and that's what it is.”

“I don't even call him ‘Usher,’ ” the producer added. “I call him ‘Big Time,’ because that’s what I used to call him as a kid. I don't even look at him as a big superstar. That’s my brother, I see him every day. ”

He’s a father and an uncle

<p>Prince Williams/WireImage</p> James 'J-Lack' Lackey attends Halloween Costume Party Hosted by Keri Hilson and Bow Wow on October 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Prince Williams/WireImage

James 'J-Lack' Lackey attends Halloween Costume Party Hosted by Keri Hilson and Bow Wow on October 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

J. Lack has a daughter named Star, whom he frequently shows love for on social media. In July 2020, he shared a photo of himself holding his daughter when she was a baby, writing in his caption, “Happy birthday to us ...... The best gift I have could ever receive ... I love you as much as life it self !!!! Happy birthday Star !!!!!”

He also gushed about her in an adorable 2016 birthday tribute, which featured Star with a present alongside her grandma. “Happy birthday I love you like no other....” the producer wrote. “I would lay somebody down for this woman here !!!!! family first !!!!!! I love u girl !!!!! Birthday breakfast.”

In addition to being a father, the musician is a loving uncle to Usher’s kids, Usher “Cinco” V, Naviyd Ely, Sovereign Bo and Sire Castrello. He celebrated Sovereign’s birth in November 2020. “Welcome 🙏🏾My niece !!!!” he captioned a photo of her.

In December 2018, he posted a photo of himself and Naviyd, wishing his nephew a happy birthday.

Related: Usher's 4 Kids: All About Usher V, Naviyd, Sovereign and Sire

Usher is very proud of him

<p>KMazur/WireImage</p> Usher and brother James "J-Lack" Lackey during Royal Birthday Ball for Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in New York City.

KMazur/WireImage

Usher and brother James "J-Lack" Lackey during Royal Birthday Ball for Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in New York City.

While speaking with MTV in 2007, Usher had lots of words of praise for his younger brother.

Recalling a time when J. Lack turned his bedroom into a full studio, the musician said, “That let me know that he was just dedicated and likely to succeed. All it would take is the right motivation.”

“J. Lack is on the move,” Usher emphasized. “I’m gonna tell y’all, you better watch out. It’s going to be a major invasion this year.”

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