Usher surprises fans with release of new album two days before his 40th birthday
Entirely produced by Atlanta-raised pianist Zaytoven, the eight-track record pays tribute to the producer’s hometown and the city the “My Boo” singer spent much of his life.
Some songs on the album — such as “Say What U Want,” “Peace Sign,” and “You Decide” — are reminiscent of the singer’s biggest hits on the 2004 album Confessions, which included notable tracks such as “My Boo” featuring Alicia Keys, “Superstar,” and “Yeah!” with Lil Jon and Ludacris.
“I don’t think that there’s any way to not sound like what I’ve created in the past, but that wasn’t the purpose,” the singer told The Fader. “We really were just making music and … There are tones that are always gonna sound similar and if it makes you feel that way then that’s a great thing because that was a very successful album.”
Usher also told The Fader that he originally intended to release the album later this month and that in the process of creating “A”, he “really was honest with the feelings” and was “in the moment.”
“I was like, ‘Nah, let’s put [it] out over the weekend,’” he said. “They still up driving like crazy to make it happen, and thank God it has, but it feels urgent. I mean, I just feel the urgency and I feel the energy of this. That’s what I’m loving right now, man.”
The album features collaborations with Atlanta rappers Future and Gunna on the first and last tracks of the record, respectively.
“I’m Honored ! @usher Ft Me ???,” Gunna, 25, who is featured on “Gift Shop,” wrote on Instagram.
The release of “A” comes seven months after Usher and his wife — and manager — Grace Miguel announced their separation.
On “She Ain’t Tell Ya,” Usher seemingly references the split, stating that “every story got more than one side.”
“She ain’t tell you I boost her self-esteem did she?” he sings. “No she didn’t tell you she’d rather play on my team, did she?”
“Don’t be bitter, just be better,” he says at the end of the track. “If I hurt you and you hurt me, how you paint yourself as unlucky?”
RELATED ARTICLE: Usher and Wife Grace Miguel Separate After 2 Years of Marriage
In March, the couple announced that they had both decided to take time apart.
“We remain deeply connected, loving friends who will continue supporting each other through the next phases of our lives,” they confirmed in a statement at the time. “The enormous amount of love and respect that we have for each other will only increase as we move forward.”
Usher is scheduled to perform at multiple shows in Australia as a headliner for “RNB Fridays Live” in November.
This article originally appeared on People.com