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As an artist, he recorded and performed solely under his surname, Thicke. At the age of 22, after an involvement with Tommy Mottola and Epic Records following the end of his first deal with Interscope, Thicke resolved himself to work chiefly on material for his debut album, initially titled Cherry Blue Skies, planning to use his own money to fund the project.
While piecing his album together, Thicke began working with veteran producer and label executive Andre Harrell and, under his guidance, eventually signed with Interscope for a second time as part of Harrell's and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds' Nu America imprint label in 2001.
In 1999, Thicke co-wrote the song "Fall Again" with Walter Afanasieff, which was intended to be a track on Michael Jackson's 2001 album Invincible, but it failed to be presented as a completed song.
Globally, however, "When I Get You Alone" became a chart success when it peaked in the Top 20 in Australia, Belgium, and Italy, and reached the Top 10 of the singles charts in New Zealand and the Top 3 in the Netherlands.Thicke and his record label Interscope soon considered potential tracks to be released as the album's next and third single.Thicke's preference was the track "Can U Believe", which peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and at number 99 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.The moderate success was enough to signal the release of the album in 2003 with its name changed to A Beautiful World.
Despite the release of a second single, "Brand New Jones", the album received very little promotion and debuted at number 152 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, Reflecting on A Beautiful World in 2013, Usher stated to The New York Times, "I was blown away — I thought Beatles, Earth Wind & Fire, Shuggie Otis, Marvin Gaye — all in one album.It was Thicke's association with Mc Knight, who Thicke counts as one of his first mentors, that led him to his acquaintance with Jimmy Iovine and helped him to land his first recording contract with Interscope Records at the age of 16.