With the release of Usher's seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself, the veteran R&B star reveals a personal evolution that fittingly corresponds with today's pop-music appetite. In addition to the sumptuous soul one expects from Mr. Raymond, perfectly exhibited on songs like "Lessons for the Lover" and "Dive," it's evident that Ursh has a serious love of dance music. And after his euphoric collaboration on "Without You" with EDM crossover star David Guetta, dance-music fans should be elated to find that in his three-year journey of discovery for Looking, Ursh worked with some of the biggest names in EDM.
Before the album's release, fans were treated to the first single with producer Diplo, underscoring his versatility yet again in the soft-synthy "Climax."
Of course, the revelation that Mr. Raymond would be putting out a double dose of Swedish House Mafia productions, "Numb" and album closer "Euphoria," was big news, too. Alesso appears in the production credits with Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso on "Numb," which has a lighter, simpler beat than one typically expects from the Swedes. This is certainly in contrast to the whopping banger "Euphoria," which won't need too much retooling before being added to a SHM set.
MTV News caught up with Angello this weekend at Las Vegas dance-music mecca XS Nightclub, where he revealed just how these two gems came to be.
"We did the [2010 American Music Awards performance] with Usher," Angello said. "And then he came to hang out with us in Ibiza. [After that] we were in Atlanta and we were all working together for five days. And then we brainstormed and wrote the records from start to finish."
As Swedish House Mafia fans are well aware, the holy trinity of house are extremely selective about whom they work with. But the chance to work with a time-tested R&B legend they respect was an opportunity they relished.
"He's always been a great artist," Angello continued. "He always knows what he wants. Good collaboration, all in all. For us, we'd rather work with someone that we respect than to just work with a big name. It was the same with Pharrell [Williams, on SHM's "One (Your Name)"] and Tinie Tempah [on "Miami 2 Ibiza"]."
While Angello reminded us that "Numb" and "Euphoria" are Usher records, not Swedish House Mafia joints, they ought to hold you SHM fans over until Ax, Seb and Steve deliver their upcoming Australia-inspired "Emotional" single, which is almost complete.