- Released: August 30, 1994
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
The Source - 11/94, p.100
"...Usher is neither a blubbering slob nor a singing gangster; he's just a talented kid who feels as comfortable singing over break-beats and hip-hop loops as he does over lush string melodies..."
Personnel: Usher Raymond, Biz Markie (vocals); Carl "Chucky" Thompson, Devante Swing, Tim Mosley, Brian Alexander Morgan (various instruments); Darryl Pearson (various instruments, background vocals); Herb Middleton (keyboards); Bob Blackman (bass); Jean "Pokey" Olivier, Alex Richbourg (drums); Faith Evans, Darren Benbow, Surena Lowe, Crystal Johnson, Kiyamma Griffin, Dave Hollister, Mary Brown, Tone Wilson, Laquentis Saxon, Al B. Sure! (background vocals).
Producers: Sean "Puffy" Combs (track 1); Carl "Chucky" Thompson (track 2); Devante Swing (track 3); Sean "Puffy" Combs, Carl "Chucky" Thompson (tracks 4, 9); Brian Alexander Morgan (track 5); Al B. Sure! (track 6); Dave "Jam" Hall (tracks 7, 14); Sean "Puffy" Combs, Alex Richbourg (track 8); Al B. Sure!, Kiyamma Griffin (track 10); Darryl Pearson, Devante Swing (track 11); Edward "Eddie F" Ferrell (track 12); Sean "Puffy" Combs, Herb Middleton (track 13).
Engineers: Nashiem Myrick, Bob "Bassy" Brockmann (track 1); Nashiem Myrick, "Prince Charles" Alexander (tracks 2, 8-9); Tony Maserati (track 3); "Prince Charles" Alexander (tracks 4, 12); Larry Funk, Brian Alexander Morgan, Bob "Bassy" Brockmann (track 5); Al B. Sure!, "Prince Charles" Alexander (track 6); Al B. Sure (track 10); Gary Joost, Tony Maserati (track 11); Bob "Bassy" Brockmann (track 13); Rob Paustian (track 14).
Samples include "Top Billin'" (as performed by the Audio Two), "Jussummen" (as performed by Das EFX), "Tidal Wave" (as performed by Ronnie Laws) and "The Show" (as performed by Doug E. Fresh).
Usher Raymond is the new teenage sweetheart of R&B. Although he's been lumped in with the genre's other young artists (Tevin Campbell, Immature and others), Usher comes forth with a more developed sound, mainly due to the maturity of his vocal style. Distinctly sculpted to appeal to members of his own generation, Raymond's full-length debut, USHER, unites some of the R&B's hottest producers to aid his cause. On the Devante Swing-written and choreographed "Can You Git Wit It," Usher proves that he could easily be the fifth member of Jodeci or a young Al B. Sure, who himself guest stars on "The Many Ways" and works the boards for "Slow Love." But listeners shouldn't doubt that Usher is his own artist, as his ability to harmonize and take control over phat tracks like "I'll Make It Right" clearly demonstrates.
Usher delivers more than the typical '90s R&B feel. With its samples and break beats, his music is extremely hip-hop-oriented in both its content and production values. One reason for this is Sean "Puffy" Combs, who is responsible for the ascension of artists such as Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G., and plays a major role on USHER. "Puffy" adds his particular brand of hip-hop flava to the album through a studied choice of appropriated grooves--including James Brown's "Blind Man Can See It" and Ronnie Laws' "Tidal Wave"--well-known to rap fans. Yet rather than diverting the listener's attention, the backing tracks serve to highlight Raymond's remarkable vocal prowess, and the lethal combination helps make USHER an impressive success.