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Released by La Reid's LaFace label, Usher's sophmore album does little to disappoint. His debut was very hit and miss due to the explicit nature of the songs given Usher's age at the time. This album is very short but contains many hits that solidified Usher's presence on the charts and in many households.
Here are some key points:
You make me wanna is a melodic piece of R&B/Pop which captured many fans and topped charts all across the world. The song's lyrics are very relatable and Usher shows us his vocal capacity in a positive light.
Just like me is a poor song on this album featuring Lil Kim who does not mesh with Usher too well; her solo work is good but on here she sounds out of place. Usher's strong points in his early music was slow jams and this song showed some weak writing and production. Present-day Usher has reversed this and is now known for his upbeat style.
Nice and slow is one of the best songs of his catalouge; it is beautifully written by Jagged Edge and the production is stellar.
One day you will be mine incorporates Ice Cube's biggest hit song and does a decent job in making it rhythmically diverse.
All all in all this is a very strong effort by Usher and laid the foundations for his very successful recording career. Excellent effort.
"My Way" came as Usher's second album, the one prior to it came without many successful songs. It was released by LaFace records in 1997. Its quite a short album from the artist, and was the first I had heard from him. The singles from the album had been my favourite Usher songs for a long time, lasting until the release of "8701", whihc came out four years later.
1. "You Make Me Wanna"
This is one of my favourite songs by Usher and it seems as though lots of others feel the same wayas it was the first Usher song to go to the top of this country's singles charts an two in the States. I feel that it's a great way to kick the album off, becasue most will know it, so they will be able to get into the album early on into it.
I feel that this album shows just where Usher came from and what he has become now. Back then he was so fresh-faced and he came out with such an original R&B style, and he has gone on so far since this time with Jermaine Dupri as his mentor.
2. "Just Like Me" (feat. Lil' Kim)
I didn't expect to here something as hard as Lil' Kim's style of rapping on an album with such a sfot R&B singer in Usher from this early time in his career, but I felt that it was simply shaping him for the rest of what awaited him, so without it he may not have had crossover hits such as "Yeah" and "Love In This Club" from more recent times.
Usher takes on the harder input by Lil' Kim in the opening to this tune by forming a swing R&B tune around it. You can hear a very strong range of his vocals in this, and it's acts as a positive start to this album after such a big opener in "You Make Me Wanna".
3. "Nice and Slow"
This track followed on from the success of "You Make Me Wanna" an din America in transferred into having him getting another Number-one single. It showed a differnt side to the artist, from the writing of another Atlanta native, Brian Casey of Jagged Edge.
This is a very slow and sensual track, and even though it ddn't receive too much airplay over here in the UK, the production is something which sticks in your mind through this long period sicne it's release as a single in 1997.
4. "Slow Jam" (feat. Monica)
This is a debut from Usher and one of the best female R&B sensations of this decade in Monica. I felt that her way of singing really complemented Usher's, and so it made for a really strong tune. I can't say that this one was that original as it is sang just as any gentle soulful tune, but regardless of it, they made a very good attempt at brining all that they could offer for the listener.
5. "My Way"
This is the title track from the album, and the first I had ever heard from the artist, and I feel that it was the video for this which initially attracted me to him, as I was only 5 at the time, so the music won't be much of a factr at that age. However when I heard this for the first time in about ten years, I imidiately remembered this great song.
When you look through Usher's careeer, discounting his unsuccessful debut album, this particular song hints on the direction which he was going to go on following this album as "8701" went on a full pop R&B style, and this is waht you get here. Although usually I don't like it when it is made to be directed towards the mainstream, it's only because this usually leads to it being over-played, but this one wasn't so it remains a track that I always enjoy listening to.
6. "Come Back"
The title alone should be all you need in order to work out what theme this track goes on, and it is very straight-forward because of this. I felt that Usher made a very good song for this type of subject as he went on an original angle as it was quite hard, and not all soppy, as it could easily have been.
Jermaine Dupri, who produces this track does a rap verseat the beginning of this track, and alothough he's not much of a rapper, it was a good way to start off the track, and he took influence from the sample, which was used in 2Pac's "California Love", as he says a couple of 'Pac's famous hits discretely during his section
7. "I Will"
Although there is quite a bit of swing in this album, Usher keeps the up-tempo tunes in check by equaling the frequency of those to the slower tunes. I prefer it when he brings up the beat as it is a lot more enjoyable from a male stand-point, but he's never weak when he calms things down either.
I felt that the singer performed extremely well in this particular tune, and to be honest, I think that he is a lot stronger at this stage of his career when he went for the more sensual tracks than today. He may sound more soulful now, but here it's clearly much more pure as the beat seems to match it well without having some superstar production team.
As soon as you here the production for this one, you can tell that we are going into a ballard, an das he doesn't do it too often anymore, I feel that it was nice to hear him go for something liike this in the album. For me, it's not really my thing, but it definately showed a lot of potential, and stayed in line with how the soul R&Bers used to go about these ones in the nineties.
9. "One Day You'll Be Mine"
As soon as I heard the production in this track, I decided that I loved it, and any Hip Hop fan should feel the same too as it takes on the Isley Brothers' "Footsteps in the Dark", which most most famously used in Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day", and there's no way that I could dislike anything which tool elements from that classic single.
I think that it suits the thme of the original sample than it does Ice Cube's interpretation, but it does have that chilled-out style which fits in with with the West Coast anthem of the early '90s, that echos earlier on in the decade which this was recorded. He also goes into some melodic raps halfway through to show that he's taken this on board.
10. "You Make Me Wanna" (Extended Version)
This is simply a bonus track from the album and is exactly the same as the orignal version, the only thing which seperates this from it is that there are extended instrumental sections to the track.
In my opinion, this album is a forgotten classic by Usher, and it seemed to be ignored, along with his self-entitled debut album as all the records which follwed on from this, "8701", "Confessions", and "Here I Stand" did so much better in comparison. Regardless of this, it should not be forgotten, you must pursue this if you liked "You Make Me Wanna", because I know that you've heard it, as the rest of the album is pretty much all like that, but obviously varied enough to include all the type of tunes which you expect more an R&B album.
Following on from my review of Tool's 10,000 days I have decided to review something a little different and it's fair to say there won't be too many people who will like both Tool and Usher as a search on facebook for people who like both artists comes up a blank. Anyway Usher's album My Way was his second album and was released in 1997 it was the album that made him into a star selling over 8 million copies worldwide before he hit the superstar heights with 8701 and Confessions a few years later.
1.) You make me wanna
This was the lead single from the album and is an infectious tale of wanting to leave someone for the person who set you up with your current partner. A tough subject done well with a great beat. I remember dancing to this at school discos.
2.) Just Like Me
A hip hop ballad which features This track has an infectious hip hop feel with some bass guitar licks and drum beats that are key to the tracks feel. Not the best on the track but has it's appeal as a funky hip hop track.
3.) Nice and Slow
This has an amazing guitar intro that sounds brilliant, It's key to the track's overall mellow feel. The soft drum beat comes through and then Usher's vocals come in. This is a lovely romantic ballad about spending time with your partner. It sounds wonderful too. And it was written by Brian Casey of Jagged Edge.
4.) Slow Jam
This duet with R&B songstress Monicas is a cover of Midnight Star's 1983 hit and It is a lovely ballad about how music can be a part of a relationship. Most couples have their favourite song together and this is not a bad one to have.
5.) My Way
This isnt a cover of Frank Sinatra's well known track but a funky hip hop featuring Jermaine Dupri. It is a song about having confidence in yourself knowing that your way is the right way. A great song with a great message.
This starts with piano likes it's going to be a nice romantic ballad and then develops with an awesomely infectious sample of Joe Cocker's woman to woman. This works very well and makes the track stand out even more.
7.) I Will
This ballad is a pledge to a woman that you will do right for her. Some nice piano is joined by a thumping drum beat and some nice background sounds from the keyboards. This is a lovely track that shows off Usher's voice.
This ballad features Babyface and is a lovely track about those bedtime moments with someone special. This has a beautiful feel to it and is one of the best ballads he has done and he has done some amazing ballads.
9.) One day you'll be mine
This features a sample of Footsteps in the Dark" by The Isley Brothers and is a mid tempo track with a hip hop feel. Although a good track it doesnt have the spark of the best tracks on My Way. Still has a nice beat and some smooth vocals.
10.) You make me wanna (extended remix version)
This is an extended remix version of You make me wanna and is a worthwile remix although some will prefer the original this still has great appeal. The song is just so catchy and infectious. brilliant track.
This album is one of the best R&B albums of the nineties and has become a classic for Usher fans around the world with his ballads and hip hop tracks receiving huge acclaim from his fans. This album was what made Usher into a star aged 19. This album ranks behind 8701 and Confessions in my opinion due to the fact that it has only ten tracks and a couple of weaker tracks.
Eleven years on he is set to release his fifth studio album "Here I stand" in a few weeks time which is sure to be an instant hit. I can't wait to buy it when it comes out on 27th May. After hearing a few of the tracks I know he's onto a sure thing.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 You Make Me Wanna
2 Just Like Me
3 Nice And Slow
4 Slow Jam - Usher & Monica
5 My Way
6 Come Back
7 I Will
8 Bed Time
9 One Day You'll Be Mine
10 You Make Me Wanna