Don’t know if you have realised… but Usher hasn’t made a better sex song since Nice & Slow in his career. His 1998 follow-up jam to Number 1 hit You Make Me Wanna… is nice and also slow but the title is actually a sexy double-entendre for Usher’s favourite hobby, which he is on the verge of doing throughout the song. Typical of the R&B music of that era, the song is real “getting it on” talk for people who think scented candles, ice cubes and mango slices are sexual. It is an ode to love: “I got plans to put my hands in places I never seen, girl you know what I mean” (not a large bag of Kettle Chips Sea Salt & Black Pepper FYI). Aside from Usher’s plans, your plan is to be “inspired” and get all nice and slow while listening to Nice & Slow. Nice & Slow is as close to a forced audio aphrodisiac as Another Level’s Freak Me or Jodeci’s Freek’N You. Just because it doesn’t have the word “Freak” in the title (Nice & Slow Freak would have sent the wrong message) doesn’t mean the people ain’t gon’ get their freak ON to the song (apparently). Usher even wears one of those condom things on his head in the video as an almost-there reminder of safe sex practices.
The sex-educatiing crooner had big singles after Nice & Slow but none have put a refreshing new stamp on his “I’m’a get my groove on” mantra. U Got It Bad, for instance, was merely Nice & Slow Part II: Feelings Post-Nice & Slow where Usher showed off then girlfriend, Her off TLC. Burn was Nice & Slow Part III: Thanks But I’m Bored Of Nice & Slow Now where Usher dumped then girlfriend, Her off TLC. Together these tracks formed the beginning, middle and end of a Nice & Slow trilogy: a relationship told through its various phases of sexual health. Usher would also often veer into club anthems, which acted as a preamble – the prequel, if you like – to Nice & Slow’s late-night physical antics. But this direction was not refreshing. Yeah! was a track that sounded like a BT call centre having a routine fire drill. It put me off ever leaving the house in 2004 – a problem for Usher whose purpose in life is to encourage mass sexytime. As far as his latest big hitter OMG went, I needed that on a night out like I needed a spinning class after six shots of sambuca.
Ten years ago today the music industry lost a world superstar-in-the-making when a private jet crashed in the Bahamas taking with it the life of Aaliyah Dana Haughton, aged just 22.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on 16 January 1979, Aaliyah’s illustrious 10-year career began after she scored a record deal with Jive before she was even a teenager. Going on to achieve chart success on the Billboard 100 from the off, she took that TLC/SWV/Salt’N’Pepa/Brandy Vs. Monica brand of mid-’90s popular R&B and added her own bandana-wearing, sunglasses-sporting, midriff-baring swagger. Debuting in 1994 with radio-friendly, R Kelly-produced single Back & Forth she not only hit Number 1 on the US R&B chart, but had transatlantic success scoring inside the UK singles chart’s Top 20.
Following this, Aaliyah sold three million copies in the US alone of her first album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number but caught some unwanted attention due to allegations she had entered into an illegal marriage with notorious bad boy R Kelly. It wouldn’t be long, however, before she’d sign to Atlantic Records, with whom she’d go on to achieve even greater feats on Missy Elliott-featuring follow-up album One In A Million (1996) – a record which would launch the prolific career of its producer, Timbaland.