In May 2014, Usher released "Good Kisser," which was originally supposed to be the first single from his eighth studio album. He resorted to an old clipping of a Foster Sylvers record (a low-riff riff, a drum of drums, a festive cowbell sizzle) and Usher chanted lines with his usual grace. "Good Kisser" was a rare thing, remarkably intricate, but so brazen and entertaining that it still managed to be number one in the radio world obsessed with trends.
But "Good Kisser" did not do as well as Team Usher expected, staying in number 65 of the Hot 100. The album that became Hard II Love it was repeatedly rejected, and finally it came out almost two and a half years later, and "Good Kisser" was nowhere to be found on the standard edition song list.
Since the aesthetic risk "failed" (only in the world of Usher, by the way, is a number one radio disc considered a disappointment), the singer has adhered to the safest formulas, singing about the latest rhythms of rap. That represented most of 2016 Hard II Love, and is the essence of its new release, A, a collection of songs with Zaytoven, the Atlanta rap producer who loves piano.
Catching the waves of pop has always been one of Usher's greatest strengths, whether that means collaborating with Lil Jon when Crunk was becoming mainstream or loading into EDM when European producers took over. However, there is something frustrating about seeing this singer make music that he hopes will fit with the generation of Trap Soul (Bryson Tiller, 6lack et al.). Usher has the penetrating tone and resources to bury these young people, but chooses to engage with them on their own ground, rather than on land that could be more favorable for a singer who released his first single 25 years ago: Trap Soul kids . I do not know how to make "Good Kisser".
Still, Usher is a professional; When he decides on a path, he goes all-in. The nonsense syllables in "ATA" sound nice, although they feel moody on the part of Young Thug. In "Sign of Peace", Usher casts snapshots of a sweaty night with contagious jealousy; At the same time, he cleverly covers the track with Auto-Tuned accompaniment voices, offering a delicious lesson in counter-melody.
Elsewhere, A is more unimaginative, with original Zaytoven rhythms and a Future-be-Future feature ("Stay at Home"). In the "Gift Shop," which incorporates a verse from the young Atlanta rapper, Gunna, Usher raps in a tense style of punching. He is completely committed. But he has committed to mixing, instead of excelling.