Nice & Slow
by Usher (featuring Jagged Edge)

Album: My Way (1997)
Charted: 24 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This sultry slice of '90s R&B finds Usher romancing his girl until the sun comes up, taking it nice and slow. "'Nice & Slow' came as a result of mixing this gumbo of classic R&B, chivalry and courting a woman," he explained in a documentary about the making of the My Way album. "I want to make sure we still court women. Do things that will give them something to remember."
  • Usher was just 18 when this song was released on his second album, My Way, but he had compressed a lot into those years. He made his first recordings when he was 12, singing in a group called Nubeginning in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Soon after, he moved to Atlanta and signed with LaFace records, run by LA Reid and Babyface. His first single on the label was "Call Me A Mack," issued when he was 14. Reid thought he needed to gain some swagger before putting out his debut album, so he sent him to train with Puff Daddy (Sean Combs) in New York City, where Usher learned how true playas play. Puff Daddy was the executive producer of his self-titled debut album, issued in 1994 when Usher was 15. That album showed the swag Reid was looking for, but it didn't feel authentic and didn't make a strong connection with fans.

    Back in Atlanta, Usher was assigned a new producer/mentor: Jermaine Dupri, who had huge hits under his belt with Kris Kross ("Jump"), Xscape ("Just Kickin' It"), and Mariah Carey ("Always Be My Baby"). Usher moved in with Dupri, who made him assert himself in the creative process. Dupri fashioned the track for "Nice & Slow" and worked on the lyric with Usher, who for the first time had a lot of input into one of his songs.
  • The lyric adds details like what time Usher is coming over (7 O'clock) and what he's driving (a drop top). "That was my world," Usher explained. "I was explaining the reality of what was going on in my world. I had a Jeep Wrangler, pulled up in my drop top, I told her to wear that little thing I like, I pulled up, and the rest is history."
  • When Dupri and Usher got to the end of the song, they knew it needed something more, so Dupri came up with the "I'll freak you right I will..." part and brought in Jagged Edge, an R&B group he worked with, to sing backup on this section.
  • Along with Usher and Dupri, Brian Casey of Jagged Edge gets a songwriting credit, as does Dupri's collaborator Manuel Seal, who added guitar to the track. In the Billboard Book Of #1 Hits, Seal talked about how this song crafted an image for Usher: "We didn't want too good a guy like Michael Jackson and we didn't want too bad a guy like Bobby Brown, so we had to make him a nice guy but not too nice."
  • Jermaine Dupri was very proud of this song and sure it would be the first single from the album, but when he played it for LA Reid, he got a lukewarm reaction. Reid told him to write another song as the first single, so Dupri set to work on one last song for the album, which ended up being "You Make Me Wanna," which got Reid's seal of approval and was issued as the lead single. That song was a huge hit, going to #2 in America and breaking Usher into the big time. "Nice & Slow" was the next single, and it also outperformed, going all the way to #1, the first of nine chart-toppers for Usher.
  • Hype Williams directed the video, which turns into an action movie when Usher's lady gets kidnapped and he has to save her. Shot in Paris, it's got dialogue and explosions along with lots of shots of a shirtless Usher - a winning formula.

    The girl in the video is the model/actress Kimora Perkins, who became Kimora Lee Simmons a year later when she married the music mogul Russel Simmons.
  • Fittingly, "Nice & Slow" went to #1 on Valentine's Day, 1998.

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