Usher Revels in Singledom on ‘Versus’ — Exclusive
Most artists wait at least a year between the release of their albums. Not Usher. The 31-year-old crooner closed out the summer with a new project titled 'Versus,' which comes just five months after his sixth opus, 'Raymond v. Raymond,' hit store shelves.
The nine-track offering continues where 'Raymond v. Raymond' left off. Usher revels in his singledom with lyrics full of sexual braggadocio. Take for instance the opening track, 'Love 'Em All,' which finds the former "one-kinda-girl kinda guy" embracing his inner "free-to-get-at-every-girl kinda guy," as he sings, "There's enough of me to make sure I pleasure all of these girls in this club."
According to the singer, his new album doesn't veer far from his six album's path. "To be honest with you, there's not a big difference between 'Raymond vs. Raymond' and 'Versus,'" Usher tells The BoomBox while sitting inside New York City's DriveIn Studios. "But if there was a difference I'd say it's more of what you receive. I worked on roughly about 40 songs making ['Raymond v. Raymond']. Of course I couldn't put all of those songs on the first album but I wanted to bring something back."
The album's first single, 'DJ Got Us Fallin In Love,' showcases the bachelor being thrown into a one-night-only fling, ignited by the DJ's tunes. Supported by an electro-infused beat created by Max Martin, Usher's mesmerized with the opposite sex, if only for a song's four-minute duration: "Hands up, when the music drops/ We both put our hands up/ Put your hands on my body/ Swear I seen you before."
"'DJ Got Us Fallin In Love' is the type of record that's all about the experience of the club," Usher shares. "It's a very tempo-driven, dance record. It's very European. A bit different from what you would normally expect from me. Every album, I've always wanted to evolve and give you something a little bit different that would show the growth of me as an artist. That feeling is what I hope to bring to life in the video."
Mission accomplished. In the song's accompanying clip -- directed by Hiro Murai -- Usher flexes his dancing chops and club goers get down like it's the last night of their lives, as the lyrics suggest.
"I felt like what we got out of the video is very close to being like one of my greatest, in terms of the creativity and the special effects. It's a little mysterious but trippy. There's these choreographic moments that are intertwined with great effects. When you look at the video, you kinda think about, 'Man, what goes on in those clubs? Wow!' The energy is crazy.'
As for the Jay-Z and Ester Dean-assisted follow-up track, 'Hot Tottie,' Mr. Raymond understands the title may perplex his fans. For those unaware of where the word derived, here's a quick lesson: a "hot toddy" is a mixed drink, usually consisting of alcohol, which is served hot. The Grammy Award-winning artist put his own spin on the libation's meaning. For Usher, its an alluring woman.
"Before you understand what 'Hot Tottie' is, you got to understand the metaphor which it comes from," he discloses. "I'm so cold, I'm cool. So If you're that cold, the only thing that will make you better is a hot tottie. It's a metaphor."
While 'Versus' isn't loaded with features, the R&B powerhouse hand-picked one collaborator whose career he's had a hand in developing: Justin Beiber. The 16-year-old jack-of-all trades, who appears on the remix to 'Somebody To Love,' is carrying the torch Usher's passed his way with impressive ease.
"When I met Justin... I think the way that we came together was destined and kind of an organic occurrence," says Usher. "Given the fact that I too started at a very young age, I felt like I would be able to help him understand what it is to manage that process of success. 'Cause he just had this natural, star talent. Let's put aside the fact that he had a great voice, he played the guitar, drums, bass and could play the piano and sing at the same time. I mean, that takes extreme talent and he taught himself. I just felt like he was a prodigy. I'm just really happy to be able to mentor, guide, direct, produce and introduce him."
With over 45 million albums sold worldwide, there's no one better than Usher to show him the way.