Usher surprises his fan with “A” — an eight track EP produced solely by Zaytoven!
3. STAY HOME
“Stay Home” is all about its vibes. The production to it features a great tempo, has a gentle feel, and surprisingly/not surprisingly, contains a few snaps in it (You know, classic A-Town s**t).
Usher and Future go back and forth on this song, with the former providing the smooth vocals and the latter providing the gutter raps. Usher gets things started with this brutally honest verse that has him warning his main chick about stepping out on him when he’s on the road. Midway through his verse, he realizes he’s the man and starts to brag and boast about how he’s living and why the chick he was once paranoid about should now worry about him being disloyal to her because of his lavish ways (That s**t 360’d quick, right?). In my opinion, his verse is very disrespectful, but hey, at least the n***a is being real, right?
Future has the second verse on this song, and on his part, he talks about having the means to spoil a chick if she acts right. The flow he raps with throughout is very choppy — a style that fits the bouncy Zaytoven produced instrumental perfectly.
Usher, with your history, you don’t need to tell anybody to stay their ass at home… You are the same n***a that had to get Shyne out of jail to explain your cheating ways to your wife in the Confessions remix (SMH).
2. SHE AIN’T TELL YA
“She Ain’t Tell Ya” isn’t the sexiest choice for a top 3 list, but in my opinion, the song features a version of Usher I want to actually hear. On it, our hero gets a chance to tell his story about this old relationship he was once in where he spoiled his chick with good sex, jewelry and money security (Some s**t she refused to bring up to her friends and family when they broke up). Production-wise, Zaytoven keeps things simple, providing the ATL star with a gentle instrumental that practically plays second fiddle to his deep lyrics and soulful vocal performance.
Is there anything better than a woman being ungrateful towards a R&B star? I feel like these ungrateful women are responsible for every bomb ass slow jam you have in your iTunes library today.
“Birthday” might be better than the official happy birthday song, bruh! (Yes, I am talking about Patty and Mildred Hill’s birthday song!)
Some times artists make their best music when they are simply f**king around in the studio; I think this song is a great example of this theory. On “Birthday,” Usher sings with this unusual style, practically bouncing off of the beat’s padded walls from start to finish. Initially, it sounds a bit off, but as the song goes on, it falls in line with the colorful instrumental he is served with.
Content-wise, “Birthday” revolves around Usher pumping his woman up to be as loose as she can for her special day (S**t, I didn’t see that premise coming). His contributions are very enjoyable to listen to, and if you’re drunk, fun to sing-a-long to, too.
Why don’t they make birthday songs for the fellas? We have birthdays, too!
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. STAY AT HOME (4/5)
2. ATa (4/5)
3. PEACE SIGN (4/5)
4. YOU DECIDE (4/5)
5. BIRTHDAY (4.5/5)
6. SHE AIN’T TELL YA (4.5/5)
7. SAY WHAT YOU WANT (3.5/5)
8. GIFT SHOP (3/5)
Usher’s ‘IT’ factor hasn’t gone away. I feel like his vocals are still pretty impressive, and his knack for finding unique ways to talk about his love life continues to be top notch. Though this album is a very small sample size of his current artistry, I felt like it was enough to gauge his unattested love for pushing boundaries in the R&B game.
You know what I loved about this EP? Usher dabbled in both some grown man s**t and youthful s**t throughout it, blending both worlds masterfully. This tells me that he’s an ultimate student of the game that doesn’t mind tweaking his style to fit the s**t you hear today. Does this approach bite him in the ass here and there on this EP? Absolutely, as there were times on it that I felt he dumbed down his sound just a little too much (ie. “Gift Shop”). But for the most part, his content and vocal performances were strong enough to carry him to the finish line without any major bumps or bruises.
Zaytoven impressed me quite a bit with his production on this EP. I felt like he was able to exude many different emotions out of Usher through his instrumentals, allowing for him to sorta let loose and allow the vibes to take him where he needed to go. This may be the reason why we got a fiery/cringeworthingly honest version of the singer for a good chunk of this EP. (Fiery/Cringeworthingly honest Usher’ makes platinum records)
Since this album only has eight songs, I can understand if true fans of Usher are left wanting more. You didn’t get that here, but what you may have gotten is a version of the singer that is once again motivated to prove to the world that his R&B crown isn’t quite ready to be snatched from his head. So to all the young/up and coming singers of the world, you may have to continue taking a back seat to that dude from the ‘A’ for longer than anticipated.