Talking to some of the collaborators on Usher's next album, Here I Stand (due in June), all indications point to the project being a blend of mature music and songs that will make the girls dance.
Former Roc-A-Fella R&B artist Rell wrote the title track, which is produced by the Grammy Award-winning team Dre & Vidal.
"It's a ballad," Vidal Davis said earlier this week. "Classic. It's a smash. It shows that despite all the things he's been through, he's still here. The first time [Usher] heard it after Rell wrote it, he said, 'I gotta cut that.' He's really grown [on] this album. He's talking about some issues."
Dre & Vidal worked with Usher on 15 songs last year in New York and Atlanta and finished with him in August. "Here I Stand" is said to be addressing Usher's fans and family. "The song is saying, 'No matter how far I go, no matter how long it takes, here I stand,' " Vidal said.
Polow Da Don, who produced the album's first single and current #1 song in the country, "Love in This Club," worked on two other records for the album as well.
"This one joint is called 'Angel,' " Polow said. "I think it's the best and biggest song I've been a part of. Usher and Nelly actually wrote the song together. Me and this dude named Brian Kennedy produced the record. We was all in the room, kicking it, talking. This is when we had our first real conversation about dude getting married. 'Cause I'm not married or close to being married — I don't even have a girlfriend — I'm like, 'Maaan! How do you get married? Especially you, Usher. How do you get married?' We was talking about that. The way he feels about [marriage], it makes it cool. He's so sincere about it, regardless [of what] everybody else thinks. 'I'm a man now.' It's some real-life sh--."
Polow said "Angel" was cut right around Christmas, during a time when Usher's dad was gravely ill (Usher's father died earlier this year).
"[Usher] was open with his feelings and emotions at the time," Polow added. " 'Angel,' it's the full circle of his life. The first verse is dedicated to his mother. She's his angel. He's [singing] about being a little kid, being a badass and taking his mother through the hardship and not realizing the whole time she was always there. She is his angel. The second verse is about meeting this woman who is now his wife. No matter how bad he treated her or what he did — not recognizing she was special, thinking she was just a girl — as things unfold, she's his angel. And he's a grown man now. The third verse is about him and his wife having a child, and now he has to be a protector. Everything is the other way around. His son is now his angel that he must protect. Everybody is gonna love it, and it makes you think [about] whoever in life has been there for you."
The third song Polow recorded with Usher is way more physical than emotional.
" 'Lights, Camera, Action,' we made that song after the first night we played 'Love in This Club' at the club, Jermaine Dupri's club," Polow recalled. "It's a nice little way to tell a girl, 'Let's make a porno.' It could be with your girl or a new girl. It's telling her, 'You know you love right. ... There's something I wanna do with you I never tried before.' The song goes, 'First I go hit the lights/ I set up the camera/ Then we get to action.' It's dope. It's a dance joint. Usher's album is strong."
The LP isn't quite finished, so the final track list has not been announced yet. There's still no guarantee that all three Polow songs will make the cut. The video for "Love in This Club" is going into production soon.