4 Songs You Didn’t Know Usher Wrote for Other Artists

These are his confessions…well, sort of. Usher made a name for himself as a defining force in modern R&B throughout the 2000s and 2010s, thanks to global hits like “U Remind Me,” Yeah!,” “Burn,” and “Confessions Part II.”

Videos by American Songwriter

As his eminence in the music industry grew, the mononymous star churned out a string of seven Top 5 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, including four consecutive chart-toppers ranging from Confessions in 2004 and Here I Stand (2008) to Raymond v. Raymond (2010) and Looking 4 Myself in 2012.

These days, Usher is busy headlining his continuously sold-out Las Vegas residency, which was extended into 2024 as of this writing. But he’s also helped write a number of songs for other artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Taio Cruz, and A Boogie wit da Hoodie.

Unlike with other superstars, not all of Usher’s songwriting credits have been the result of straightforward writing sessions. In some cases, the R&B singer’s name in the proverbial liner notes has been the result of a well-placed sample and, in one instance, a scrapped track being unceremoniously offered to another A-lister without his knowledge. Read on below to learn about four tracks Usher co-wrote for other artists—whether he knows it or not.

[RELATED: Usher Unveils Final 2023 Dates of Las Vegas Residency]

1. “Get Right” by Jennifer Lopez

The lead single off J. Lo’s fourth album, Rebirth, is instantly recognizable by its squelching saxophone line—itself a sample of Maceo and the Macks’ “Soul Power 74.” However, the song’s life actually started as a groove titled “Ride” for Usher’s smash 2004 album, Confessions.

However, while Usher is prominently listed among the songwriters on the track, it’s not entirely accurate to call the final product a song he happily gifted to a fellow artist. The R&B star originally collaborated on “Ride” with producer Rich Harrison. But when it didn’t make the final track list for Confessions, the latter opted to revamp the song and offer it to Lopez without asking Usher’s permission.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time one of Jenny from the Block’s hits has landed in her lap through somewhat murky circumstances—just ask Mariah Carey about the infectious sample of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Firecracker” she used for “Loverboy” that her rival ended up requesting to use later, for her “I’m Real.”

2. “Fast Car” by Taio Cruz

Taio Cruz had already landed three Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 by the time he released “Fast Car” in the summer of 2012. Produced by Max Martin and Klas Åhlund—the latter of whom had worked with Usher on his seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself—the dance-pop ditty has all the hallmarks of Usher’s emotive lyricism, with a turbocharged metaphor for the song’s title: Girl you really turn me on / You know you make my engine run / And there’s no turnin’ back ‘cause we’ve gone too far / I’ll drive you like a fast car, Cruz croons over a gear-shifting beat that vrooms to the finish line.

3. “Por Favor” by Pitbull and Fifth Harmony

Toward the end of their tenure as the defining American girl group of the 2010s, Fifth Harmony linked up with Pitbull for “Por Favor,” a bilingual slow burn that mixes Mr. 305’s Latin flavor with Normani, Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke, and Dinah Jane’s decadent harmonies.

Within the lush production, the song contains a sample of “My Boo,” Usher’s massively popular 2004 collaboration with Alicia Keys, earning both artists inclusion within its credits. Incidentally, Barry White also won a posthumous songwriting credit since “My Boo” pulled a melody from his 1977 track “He’s All I’ve Got,” which the late crooner wrote for his backing trio, Love Unlimited.

4. “Emotions” by A Boogie wit da Hoodie

Usher also contributed to the track “Emotions,” a fan favorite from A Boogie wit da Hoodie’s fourth studio release, Me vs. Myself. Co-written with the NYC rapper, industry heavyweights Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, the Grammy-winning production duo Nova Wav, and co-producer Travis Marsh, the album cut was never released as a single, but finds A Boogie tapping into his vulnerabilities as he lets his reedy singing voice shine, pleading, I can’t be in my feelings, emotions be hittin’ too strong / If I open up to you, just promise you won’t do me wrong.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Leave a Reply

Liam Payne Has Reportedly Been Hospitalized in Italy