8 Songs, 27 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If you didn't know there was new Usher music coming, don't feel bad—these songs didn't even exist mere days before this release. Writing and recording in Atlanta, he and producer Zaytoven knocked out eight songs during a five-day sprint, all set to drop on Usher's 40th birthday. He put down his plate of birthday cake to tell Apple Music about the project's fast genesis.

What feels different to you about putting out music at age 40 compared to, say, 25?
When I was 25, I didn't have to think as much because I didn't have an expectation to live up to. The more successful you are, the more you analyze where you are and what you should put out, and what people want. But when you give them the choice to just be in the moment as opposed to saying, “Pay attention to the single”—people want to feel like they're connected to where you are, not to a campaign.

So none of this was planned before a week ago?
We did not plan on making an album. I don't think it was one song or moment where we realized. Stuff was just coming out. Zaytoven worked on a lot of tracks in the moment based off our conversations. This happened in a very organic fashion; 48 hours ago I decided, “Let's put this out on my birthday.”

The “A” is for Atlanta, and you have Future and Gunna on here. What is it about the city right now that made you want to write this love letter to it?
I'm not certain I would call it a love letter. I think Atlanta is about collaboration around genre and feelings, not a sound. It's a melting pot. It's not Nashville, where it's just country; it's not Los Angeles with gang culture; it's not Chicago, where it's a specific feeling. Atlanta is inclusive of all things—it's melodic, it's trap, a little R&B. It's all of those things in one song.

What do you want people to get out of this project?
I want people to download it and feel the freedom of where we were when we were creating it. I want them to feel the spontaneity of what happened. I want them to celebrate with me knowing this is a soundtrack for an amazing moment that just happened between me and Zaytoven.

EDITORS’ NOTES

If you didn't know there was new Usher music coming, don't feel bad—these songs didn't even exist mere days before this release. Writing and recording in Atlanta, he and producer Zaytoven knocked out eight songs during a five-day sprint, all set to drop on Usher's 40th birthday. He put down his plate of birthday cake to tell Apple Music about the project's fast genesis.

What feels different to you about putting out music at age 40 compared to, say, 25?
When I was 25, I didn't have to think as much because I didn't have an expectation to live up to. The more successful you are, the more you analyze where you are and what you should put out, and what people want. But when you give them the choice to just be in the moment as opposed to saying, “Pay attention to the single”—people want to feel like they're connected to where you are, not to a campaign.

So none of this was planned before a week ago?
We did not plan on making an album. I don't think it was one song or moment where we realized. Stuff was just coming out. Zaytoven worked on a lot of tracks in the moment based off our conversations. This happened in a very organic fashion; 48 hours ago I decided, “Let's put this out on my birthday.”

The “A” is for Atlanta, and you have Future and Gunna on here. What is it about the city right now that made you want to write this love letter to it?
I'm not certain I would call it a love letter. I think Atlanta is about collaboration around genre and feelings, not a sound. It's a melting pot. It's not Nashville, where it's just country; it's not Los Angeles with gang culture; it's not Chicago, where it's a specific feeling. Atlanta is inclusive of all things—it's melodic, it's trap, a little R&B. It's all of those things in one song.

What do you want people to get out of this project?
I want people to download it and feel the freedom of where we were when we were creating it. I want them to feel the spontaneity of what happened. I want them to celebrate with me knowing this is a soundtrack for an amazing moment that just happened between me and Zaytoven.

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About Usher x Zaytoven

Few moments define Usher's career quite like that night in September 2001, when he stood opposite Michael Jackson at a sold-out Madison Square Garden and shared a dance. Usher juked, Jackson followed suit, the two traded moves. “I love you!” Jackson said, pointing. “I love you!” Usher replied, pointing back. It turns out, Usher might be the closest thing we have to Jackson since Jackson himself—a singer, songwriter, actor, dancer, and consummate performer whose appeal seems to transcend genre and demographics. A pop star who’s hovered in the spotlight for three decades running, with little sign of slowing down.Born Usher Raymond IV in 1978, and raised in Chattanooga and Atlanta, Usher started his career at age 10, making the rounds and honing his craft on Atlanta-area talent shows. See him on Star Search, circa 1991, singing Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” wading through a sea of admirers (“I was a ham,” he joked later). That performance led almost instantaneously to a deal with LaFace Records, then home to TLC and Toni Braxton, with Usher releasing his self-titled debut album when he was just 15. He went on to become one of the most bulletproof figures in pop, capable of straddling club music (2004’s “Yeah!”), ballads (2004’s “Confessions Part II”), boundary-pushing R&B (2012’s “Climax”), and the kind of borderless, big-tent anthems everyone seems to agree on (2008's “Love in This Club”). His 2004 album, Confessions, reportedly inspired by his breakup with TLC star Chilli, went not just Platinum but Diamond; his 2010 single “OMG” made him only the fifth artist in history to have No. 1 singles in three consecutive decades—behind, among others, Michael Jackson. In late 2018, he celebrated his 40th birthday by releasing “A”, his ninth studio album. Additionally, Usher has also acted (in television, in movies, on Broadway), taken an ownership stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers, mentored a young Justin Bieber, and worked on both American Idol and The Voice, all while maintaining a steady presence in a variety of philanthropic causes. In 2011, he was given a Freedom Award by the National Civil Rights Museum.

HOMETOWN
Dallas, TX
BORN
October 14, 1978

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