Rick Ross – Touch ‘N You video featuring Usher from God Forgives, I Don’t
Usher has been known to reinvent his sound time and time again, and evolve with the sounds of the ever-changing music industry. Usher began experimenting with dance music with tracks like “O.M.G”, “DJ Got Us Falling In Love” and a collaboration with David Guetta. Looking For Myself is his seventh studio album, and it is evident that he is digging deeper into exploration of the dance music genre with productions from EDM kings, Diplo and Swedish House Mafia. Although the album is heavily dance music infused, he still stays close to his R&B roots with some of the tracks on the album.
Usher starts off the album by continuing where his single “O.M.G” left off by collaborating with Will.I.Am again, this time singing on his electro-hop beat. The beat is straight bass with no chaser, and provides a fitting platform for Usher to further explore the world of EDM. Diplo slows things down with sexy electrifying beats that mesh perfectly and showcase the fact that Usher hasn’t lost his vocal range that made people fall in love with him.
With the dubstep craze taking flight into the depths of the mainstream, it comes as no surprise that the Danja produced “I Care 4 U” appears on the album. Dubstep heads might find this irritating, but Usher fans will probably find this new sound refreshing. “Lemme See” brings some hard hitting hip hop flair with Usher crooning accompanied with Rick Ross spitting a gruff verse
Usher also sticks his foot in and tests the indie waters with “Looking 4 Myself”, collaborating with Empire of the Sun member, Luke Steele. Usher shows that he knows the right dance producers to work with by using Swedish House Mafia produced track “Numb”. Where some artists fall short and come with a generic “dance” sound by using over-used producers, Swedish House Mafia brings the richness to the track and match perfectly with Usher’s soulful voice to create an uplifting piece that everyone can appreciate.
Artists who want to maintain longevity in the industry should take some lessons from Usher. As long as Usher continues to reinvent himself as the industry continues to reinvent itself, Usher will always remain relevant. He proves this once again with Looking 4 Myself.
It seems like no one really has to wait until official release dates anymore to get a listen to new albums. The rule of thumb is: the more popular the artist, the earlier his or her tracks leak, and the faster they spread. Just ask Ciara. While her latest album can’t exactly be considered a flop, it’s definitely no fantasy ride, as pretty much the entire project leaked to the internet weeks and weeks before it was due to be released. You just can’t hit them listeners like you used to – and when it comes to responsibility, again, larger projects means more people being involved and more people being involved means a higher chance of someone letting something slip.
Then again, leaking one track early has the potential to make your entire album – if it’s good enough. Usher’s “Yeah!” (how could we forget?) lit everything on fire when Lil’ Jon, its producer, deliberately let it loose while Usher was prepping “Burn” as the lead single. Fans loved it, critics loved it, and Confessions went Diamond in the US (that’s Platinum status times ten for you people who’ve never heard of it). Brilliant marketing tactic… or just crazy luck?
Off the top of my head, upcoming artists whose albums in danger of pulling a Leona Lewis include: Ryan Leslie (although it’s doubtful because he’s writing and producing everything himself); Rihanna (although it’s unbelievable how tightly under wraps her new project is); Mary J Blige (she is working with quite a few producers); and of course, Usher (can you say high-profile??). While fans who just can’t wait for new music may benefit from all this lack of discretion, admittedly, it’s pretty damaging to the artists themselves. You’ve got artists like Cassie who are leaking songs every day, and although it’s not clear whether or not this is being done deliberately, it’s definitely not helping their careers – from what we’re seeing now, at least.
Rihanna’s new album is by far the most interesting out of the upcoming releases; she may not be the best singer, but everything she touches turns to gold. What I can’t fathom is how no one, apart from her camp, has any information whatsoever about her fourth album. It’s slated to drop in November, but as of right there isn’t even a hint as to what the name may be. Impressive. It’s doubtful that she’ll last all the way to the day of release without at least a song leaking (apart from the lead single), but the building anticipation promises pandemonium – could this be the antithesis to Usher in 2004? Or will a major leakage happen and make this just another warning for artists and producers who want to leak tracks without knowing what they’re doing?
1. The Element of Freedom – Alicia Keys
Projected Release Date: Dec 1/2009
First single: “Doesn’t Mean Anything”
Alicia Keys is back with her fourth studio album, and even though we’ve been wondering “How could she possibly top what she did last time?”, she has always managed to do it. She went all for the Motown and old-school soul on As I Am, her last album, and on this one, she has said that she’ll be experimenting with new sounds as opposed to old – everyone seems to be saying that about his/her album these days. Let’s just hope she doesn’t abandon what makes her stand out from the typical R&B we hear on the radio.
In her own words: “The way that the songs progress [on the album] are gonna take you on a natural high. I just want you to feel a sense of freedom, I want you to feel out-of-the-box, feel inspired… you’re going to hear things that you probably didn’t think that I would sound like. It’s a journey.” – interview on 106 & Park
2. Raymond vs. Raymond (previously Monster) – Usher
Projected Release Date: Dec 8/2009
First single: “Papers”
After the absolute flop (well, by Usher’s standards, at least) that was Here I Stand, Usher is picking himself up and releasing another album. Amidst rumours and speculation that he had “gone soft” with his marriage to ex-wife Tameka Foster, the title of the first single, “Papers,” is definitely up for interpretation. Now in his thirties, Usher has to prove that he still has what made Confessions the massive commercial and critical hit that it was; two failures in a row would put him firmly in the “Up-for-retirement” class.
In his own words: “Racy, risky, and edgy” – interview with People magazine
3. Transition – Ryan Leslie
Projected Release Date: Nov 3/2009
First single: “You’re Not My Girl”
The strange thing about Ryan Leslie is that his career never really took off, despite lots of solid production work for artists like Cassie, New Edition, and Britney. He has earned the respect of many artists within the industry for his unique musical style, but his fame on the charts (and in the gossip columns) has been surprisingly limited. For a man who graduated from Harvard when he was 19, Ryan Leslie could be doing a lot of other things with his life right now, but his dedication to music is impressive, to say the least – he wrote and produced his entire debut album, which is almost unheard of in the music scene today. Transition is receiving the same treatment, but as of right now the odds of it being either a Confessions or a floptastic Here I Stand are pretty even.
In his own words: “I don’t really get into the idea of making excuses or giving explanations for why I’m not massively exposed… we’re at an age now where if people really want to expose something… they’ll expose it.” – interview with PinBoard
4. D.N.A. – Mario
Projected Release Date: Oct 12/2009
First single: “Break Up”
Sporting a new shaved head, Mario is back with D.N.A., an album that was supposed to be released ages ago, but kept getting pushed back. It’s hard to believe that this is his fourth album (he’s only 23), but Mario’s talent can’t be denied. He’s like a younger, more contemporary-R&B-sounding male version of Alicia Keys. He has all the producers that the hip-hop and R&B singers in the game want on their albums too, and seeing as this is Mario we’re talking about and add to that the fact that he’s been working on this album for so long, this will probably keep R&B afloat until the end of the year when all the other artists drop their albums.
In his own words: “… you’ve got the Trey Songzs, the Ne-Yos , and you’ve got the Chris Browns of the world—you’ve got all these new artists. This is my fourth album, and some of them aren’t even on their third [album]—I’m coming back with something fresh and new.” – interview with DJBooth.net
5. Echo – Leona Lewis
Projected Release Date: Nov 11/2009
First single: “Happy”
Is there a more anticipated album this year? Well, there probably is, but this one is up there with the rest of them. Spirit was the hit album that every American Idol winner after Kelly Clarkson desperately tried to attain unsuccessfully (with the exception of perhaps Carrie Underwood), and Simon Cowell is not letting go of the reins on this one, having once again chosen the producers for every song. If the first single is any indication though, she seems to be following the formula for her debut a little too closely – “Happy” sounds dangerously similar to, well, every single on Spirit that featured piano instrumentals. Leona Lewis might be toeing the line with this one.
In her own words: “I’ve taken more control this time and I feel more at ease with everything.” (Don’t make me wish that you pushed yourself more, Leona.)
You know that really bad cliché about truly great artists who will never die? These five artists are doing their best to make sure this cliché stays alive for the King of Pop.
He sings like him, glides like him, and owes 99.9% of his success to the late Michael Jackson. Usher’s R&B crown rests largely on the gloves and the smooth moves, trademarks of the original King of Pop. Apart from dance, Usher and Michael Jackson share an almost fanatical support from the African-American community at their respective heights of popularity. MJ’s influence on Usher’s performance style is so thorough that anyone who calls himself a fan of Usher (whether he knows it or not) is inevitably a fan of the man who originally popularized the moonwalk. Just sayin’.
You could call Usher the black Michael Jackson… or you could call Justin Timberlake the white Michael Jackson. At the risk of getting a “Too soon,” I’ll just keep my mouth shut. What’s there left to say? Ever since he ditched ‘N Sync, JT has made no secret about his love for Michael Jackson. His first ever solo performance at the VMAs had the fedora, the gloves, Michael-Jackson-inspired choreography, and falsetto after falsetto. Even after his music started transitioning toward a more rock and even electronic sound, JT is not afraid to experiment and take risks. Just like someone who released Thriller back in ’82. If Michael Jackson were 25 years-old today, he’d be Justin Timberlake. Except for the… never mind.
Chris, Chris, Chris. If it weren’t for his shocking assault on Rihanna, he’d be one of the biggest stars of this generation. Originally touted as the next Usher, this 20 year-old can literally dance his shoes off – as if you can be the next Usher without knowing how to do a decent glide. His singing leaves a bit to be desired, but hey. Like every other artist on this list, Chris Brown’s dancing is the most immediate connection to the legacy that Michael Jackson left behind; his tribute performances of Billie Jean and Thriller make that much clear. Now if only he can do something about that voice – oh and fix his ruined image.
Music, check. Fashion, check. Dancing – well, Ne-Yo poses more than dances, but close enough. Check. Shaffer Smith is the closest to what Michael Jackson would’ve been if he’d stuck with R&B instead of experimenting with different genres. He rocks the fedora too, but that might be more of a sneaky way to hide his receding hairline. Ne-Yo even has his own equivalent of MJ’s signature hiccup: the holler. Except of course it doesn’t sound as cool as the hiccup and he really overdoes it. And the choreography… it’s strange because the man tries to move, he really does. He has maybe two or three go-to moves/poses that come up about ten times per performance – check them out, they’re not hard to miss. Compared to the others on this list though, Ne-Yo is nowhere near the prolific dancers they are. Song-writing’s his bread and butter, and it’s probably better that way.
The only female on the list, Ciara Princess Harris has no problem taking risks with her choreography – just like… guess who. The woman who comes closest to putting on the moves like Ciara is probably Michael’s sister, Janet Jackson. Like Chris Brown, Ciara’s singing has a long way to go before she can get anywhere close to MJ’s level, and honestly, I can tell you it isn’t happening anytime soon. Her tribute performance of “Heal the World” is perfect evidence. Cici’s “1, 2 Step,” fortunately, is on point and her dancing is the best tribute that she could give the King of Pop.
BRITNEY SPEARS, MARIAH CAREY, USHER, RIHANNA, CHRIS BROWN, LIL WAYNE, KATY PERRY, T.I., JORDIN SPARKS AND FLO RIDA NAB MOONMAN NODS FOR “2008 VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS” | BEST FEMALE VIDEO AND BEST MALE VIDEO NOMINEES | British Comedian Russell Brand Set To Host Star-Studded Award Show | Set To Air Live On Sunday, September 7th, 2008
“And the MoonMan goes to!!!” Well, we don’t know that yet but on Sunday, September 7th a few names you may hear when envelopes are opened and winners revealed are Britney, Mariah, Rihanna, Usher, Chris or Katy. Beginning on Friday, July 18th, MTV viewers began their contribution to the 2008 Video Music Awards by helping to decide this year’s nominees for “Best Female Video” and Best Male Video” guaranteed to create an award show with the music they want to hear and see. As previously announced, MTV’s 25th annual Video Music Awards will be hosted by comedian/actor Russell Brand and will air live and only one time in its original incarnation, on Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 9PM (Live ET/Tape Delayed PT). Host, presenters and additional performers will be announced at a later date.
Artists nominated for the coveted MoonMan in the “Best Female Video” category include Britney Spears for her video “Piece of Me.” Other talented ladies nominated in the “Best Female Video” category include the always fabulous diva Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Jordin Sparks and talented “girl kissing” newcomer Katy Perry. And now for the men…nominees for “Best Male Video” are Usher, Chris Brown, Flo Rida, T.I.. and Lil Wayne. Each Friday night at 8pm ET/PT on “FNMTV,” two new categories will be announced and open for viewers to vote for their favorite artists and videos at vma.mtv.com or from their Verizon Wireless mobile phone by texting the name of the artist to 23882. Categories currently open for viewers voting are “Best Hip Hop Video and “Best Pop Video.”
AND THE NOMINEES ARE…
BEST FEMALE VIDEO:
Britney Spears – “Piece of Me”
“Piece of Me”
Jive/Zomba Label Group
Director: Wayne Isham
Jordin Sparks – “No Air”
Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown
19/Jive/Zomba Label Group
Director: Chris Robinson
Katy Perry – “I Kissed A Girl”
“I Kissed A Girl”
One Of The Boys
Director: Kinga Burza
Mariah Carey – “Touch My Body”
“Touch My Body”
Island Def Jam Music Group
Director: Brett Ratner
Rihanna – “Take a Bow”
“Take A Bow”
A Good Girl Gone Bad
Director: Anthony Mandler
BEST MALE VIDEO:
Lil Wayne – “Lollipop”
Lil Wayne featuring Static
Tha Carter III
Cash Money Records/Universal Motown
Director: Gil Green/D. Carter
Chris Brown – “With You”
Director: Erik White/Chris Brown
Usher – “Love In This Club”
Usher featuring Young Jeezy
“Love In This Club”
Here I Stand
LaFace Records/Zomba Label Group
Director: The Brothers Strause
T.I. – “No Matter What”
“No Matter What”
Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records
Director: Self/James Lopez
Flo Rida – “Low”
Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
Step Up 2 The Streets Original Soundtrack/ Mail On Sunday
Poe Boy Ent./Atlantic Records
Director: Bernard Gourley
Russell Brand has emerged as a genuine star of the silver screen. Making his feature film debut in ‘Penelope’ with Christina Ricci and James McAvoy, and then onto the contemporary Ealing caper ‘St Trinian’s’, and this year won rave reviews for his scene-stealing performances in Judd Apatow’s ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’. Apatow has cast him to play opposite Jonah Hill in his next feature ‘Getting Him to the Greek,’ filming in early 2009.
Official sponsors of “2008 VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS” are GM, Pepsi, TAG Body Spray, Taco Bell, Rhapsody and Verizon Wireless.
This year one lucky viewer will get the chance of a lifetime trip by joining “Do Good. Go to the VMAs.” Think.MTV.com, MTV’s online community for youth activism, is hooking up one young activist and shipping them off to Los Angeles to attend the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards alongside the biggest stars in the industry. From July 24th through August 22nd, all Think.MTV.com members who join the “Do Good. Go to the VMAs” group, at http://think.mtv.com/Groups/DoGoodGoToTheVMAs/, can enter to win two tickets to the VMAs on September 7, 2008 along with travel and hotel accommodations when MTV takes over Los Angeles for this year’s show.
Jesse Ignjatovic/Den of Thieves is the Executive Producer, for the “2008 MTV Video Music Awards.” Dave Sirulnick is Executive Producer. Chris Choun/Ish Entertainment is Co-Executive Producer. Jane Mun is Producer. Amy Doyle, Joanna Bomberg and Robin Katz are Music Talent Executives. Robin Reinhardt-Locke is Celebrity Talent Executive. Garrett English is Executive in Charge of Production.
Telescope is the Official Business Advisor of the “2008 MTV Video Music Awards” Nominee Voting period.
JAZMINE SULLIVAN RECORDS WITH “TRICKY” STEWART;
CHECK OUT THE SNEAK PEAK FOR “BUST YOUR WINDOW”
Watch Jazmine Sullivan Recording w/ “Tricky” Stewart:
Jazmine Sullivan records music in Atlanta for her first studio album with Grammy winning record producer “Tricky” Stewart (Rhianna, Usher, Mariah Carey, Madonna)
“Bust Your Window” snippet now available on http://www.myspace.com/jazminesullivan
With a distinctive vocal style that’s rich and full of conviction, J Records’ latest signing, Jazmine Sullivan, is set to heat up the airwaves this summer with her smash new single “Need U Bad.” The infectious reggae-tinged single, written by Jazmine and produced by Missy Elliott and Lamb, impacted urban mainstream radio on May 26th and has already climbed to #25 on the charts.
Demure but dangerous, Jazmine’s frank, take-no-prisoners approach to songwriting, coupled with her passionate delivery, will quickly establish her as the one to watch this year and years to come. While her self-penned lyrics on “Bust Your Windows,” “One Night Stand,” “Call Me Guilty” and “In Love With Another Man,” may raise a few eyebrows, music production by Missy, Salaam Remi, Jack Splash, Tricky, Wyclef, Stargate and more, will keep listeners captivated throughout her forthcoming debut disc.
While in the process of recording and promoting her album, Jazmine will give fans an inside look into her life by leaving voice mail updates along her journey. Fans can call Jazmine at (215) 789-4753 to hear her updates and leave messages.
Singing since the age of five, the Philly native made her first national televised appearance on Showtime at the Apollo at the age of 11. As Jazmine continued to hone and define her vocal dexterity, she quickly gained a legion of fans during her jaw-dropping live sets at her hometown’s popular Black Lily showcases, where artists such as Jill Scott, Musiq, and Floetry performed before they became national recording artists.
With a track record of amazing live performances, songwriting credits for Christina Milian’s “Say I,” and background vocal appearances on several albums, including Missy’s forthcoming album, there’s no question that the sassy 21 year-old Jazmine is prepared to introduce the world to her unique brand of bold and beautiful music with a rebellious spirit.
Need U Bad (Windows Media, Streaming, 128k, Audio)
AVILA BROTHERS IN STUDIO THIS WEEK WITH USHER! GRAMMY WINNING PRODUCERS/SONGWRITERS BREAK OUT ON THEIR OWN WITH USHER, ANTHONY HAMILTON, TABOO, SEAN GARRETT & MORE
Bobby and IZ Avila, the producing/songwriting brothers who this year won Grammys for Best R&B album and Best R&B Song, have been in the studio this week with USHER working on material for his upcoming album. The Avila brothers brought the superstar to the legendary Marvin Gaye studios in Hollywood for its feeling of peace. “You can channel the creative spirit,” said Bobby. When Usher walked in, says IZ, “He said ‘I feel the spirit, we are making magic again!'” This is not their first work with the platinum superstar: The Avila Brothers produced and wrote five songs on CONFESSIONS and three on RHYTHM CITY.
The brothers recently formed The Avila Brothers Inc., after working for several years as part of the Flyte Tyme team. Since striking out on their own, they have produced and written for Anthony Hamilton, Sean Garrett, Frankie J., Jah Free and Taboo of Black Eyed Peas on upcoming projects.
Although they are only in their early 30s, the Brothers have worked with a long list of superstars including Mary J Blige, Missy Elliot, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé & Bilal, Janet Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle and others. They have also produced music for Shark Tale, The Gap and the NBA. Their work with Chaka Khan as producers and songwriters for FUNK THIS, earned them a Grammy for Best R&B album and Best R&B song written by the brothers which featured Chaka Kahn & Mary J. Blige.
Bobby and IZ are as close as brothers can be. They still lived in the Inland Empire in which they were raised and their houses are only a few blocks from one another. They even ride to work together when they are not working out of the Avila Brothers Studios.
The Avila Brothers studios near their home features a combination of the same vintage and state of the art equipment like the Marvin Gaye studios they so admire.
Usher in the Studio with Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri + More Love in the Club
Usher – Love In This Club video featuring Young Jeezy