A (stylized as "A") is a collaborative studio album by American singer-songwriter Usher and American record producer Zaytoven, who also produced the album. It was released at midnight EST on October 12, 2018. The album is an homage to the city of Atlanta, where Usher and Zaytoven grew up. A features guest appearances from Future and Gunna.
While working on the follow-up to Hard II Love, Usher and keyboard-specialist producer Zaytoven got into a zone that rapidly developed into this intermediary surprise release, written and recorded over the course of a week and issued -- with a title in tribute to the duo's native Atlanta -- the weekend of the former's 40th birthday. Having previously worked with one another on "Papers," which in 2009 topped the R&B/hip-hop chart, Usher and Zaytoven resume with a short set of sleek, low-profile grooves and ballads. Usher switches between hedonistic and repentant modes with carnality usually implied during the rare moments when it's not explicit -- certainly not a stretch for him. "A" is inspired if mechanical, with Usher's superior vocal dexterity almost neutralized by overly familiar scenarios and materialistic lyrical tropes. Relationship recovery, revisited on the subtly dazzling "You Decide" and aching "Say What U Want" -- two songs with a co-writing credit for gospel artist and pastor Deitrick Haddon -- is still his strongest suit. For all its drama, the album also contains two of Usher's lightest numbers: "Birthday," a ladies night strip-club anthem, and "Gift Shop," the set's most valiant attempt at appealing to listeners half the singer's age.