Usher surprised everyone on Oct. 12 with the unannounced release of his album “A.”
This latest project from Usher, along with help from producer Zaytoven, features an eight-song track list with features from artists Future and Gunna. “A” is Usher’s first album since 2016’s “Hard II Love.”
Usher has run the rhythm and blues/hip-hop game for some time now. With hits like “Yeah!,” “My Boo” and “You Got it Bad,” Usher has a lot to live up to when he releases a new album. Usher and Zaytoven’s collaboration exceeds these expectations.
“A” opens with “Stay at Home (featuring Future)," a hip-hop song that livens up the mood of an album that is mostly R&B/gospel inspired. Future’s verses and Usher’s easy flow create an upbeat song that still vibes well and does not feel out of place from the rest of the album.
“ATA,” the next track on the album, introduces more of the R&B side to Zaytoven and Usher’s collaboration. The easy listening of the album continues with Usher’s soulful voice soaring over the smooth beats Zaytoven creates. The chorus of this track is so catchy and sharp that Zaytoven and Usher let the track fade out into a playback of people freaking out about it in the studio.
“Peace Sign” and “You Decide” continue the R&B trend in the album while introducing a touch of the gospel sound that Usher and Zaytoven explore throughout the album.
“Birthday” capitalizes on the hip-hop side of Usher’s sound more than “Stay at Home (feat. Future)” does. Zaytoven’s hip-hop beats merge well with Usher’s voice to create a distinct sound that is heard from Usher on this album.
Usher and Zaytoven explore more of their gospel-sounding side with “She Ain’t Tell Ya” and “Say What U Want.” These songs mix Zaytoven’s fantastic piano playing with Usher’s voice, and they bring out the best qualities in each other’s sounds. Usher also shows off his fantastic lyricism in these songs, relating them back to the pressures and issues he has experienced during the past two years.
The album concludes in the same way it started, with a hip-hop track. “Gift Shop (feat. Gunna)” shows off more of Zaytoven and Usher’s flow. It also shows that, though they suffer through hardships and need time to get through them, they can still go back to the easygoing and fun ways they knew before.
Zaytoven and Usher created an album that vibes and flows harmoniously. Long-time fans and newcomers will appreciate this Usher and Zaytoven collaboration that is hopefully explored more in the future.