Interview: Pop Wansel On Writing And Producing Usher’s ‘Good Kisser’ Single


This past Monday (May. 5), Usher released the lead single, “Good Kisser,” to his forthcoming 8th studio album and the reception was overwhelming. The risqué single catapulted the seasoned crooner into the spotlight for his music and not any personal drama. As the record worked its way onto VIBE’s office stereo, we courted co-producer/songwriter Pop Wansel for the full story on how the song came to life. –Mikey Fresh

This Usher single is crazy! We were playing it in the office yesterday and even the girls were into it. When did you write the song?
Honestly, a lot of times when I wake up singing something random, it turns into a song. So I woke up one morning just signing ‘Don’t nobody kiss it like you baby,’ and I was just singing it all day long. And then Flip, who also co-produced on the record came by my house and heard me. Then, he started humming it, and I was like looking for this imaginary song on the internet because I really thought it was somebody else’s [laughs]. And, that same day I went to sleep with my iTunes on and I woke up to that Foster Sylvers sample playing on my computer. Later that night, I went to the studio and just put it all down, then forgot about it. About six months later, we were going through old ideas on my computer and that one came up and I was like ‘Oh shit, this is crazy.’

So how did you guys get the record to Usher because I know you didn’t really write the song for him specifically.
What happened was, I was in L.A. and I heard that Mark Pitts was going top be in the studio, so I go over there and play him the record. Man, he started dancing, going crazy to the song after the first listen. He was like ‘Yo, I need this record!’ So I gave it to him and the next day at like five in the morning, my manager texted me like ‘Yo Usher needs this record ASAP!’

So how much of the song was already done when he gave it to Usher? The verses were already there and everything?
It was pretty much done. You know but Usher came in and made it his own. He changed some things so it made more sense to him, like some of the lyrics. He kind of brought it all together as a whole song. It’s like I bought a plate of fucking fried chicken with greens and macaroni and cheese and potato salad, but I didn’t have a biscuit and dessert. He bought the fucking biscuit and dessert to it.

When did this record take the X-rated turn, though? It took us a second to realize what Usher is really singing about
Yeah, that was the cool thing about it. I didn’t want to blatantly say “suck” or anything like that, you know? So I just used the word “kiss.” Since kiss is so universal… a kiss is so pure and classy. But in the lyrics a lot of people don’t catch when Usher sings “I got lipstick on my leg” [laughs].

So at first, we were thinking Usher had to be the one to make this song about… oral pleasure
That was in play, believe that, that was in play. But he actually came in and scaled it back some. Not much, you still have that risque factor. He didn’t want to change that at all but he changed a couple of words that I had wrote. Let’s just say he made it less X-rated [laughs]. It spoke to him and he was able to perform it convincingly because it’s something that he understands. It should be sure to him.

I know Usher has been in the studio lately. Did you guys cut anymore tracks?
I don’t know if I’m suppose to say this now, but what I can say is that we did some amazing stuff. We really did vibe well together. We really, really vibe well together. It’s way bigger than that one song. We did some amazing things tracks in the studio. I promise you, it’s so, so worth it—the stuff that’s to come from what we’ve done is pretty amazing. And the stuff that he’s done in general with other people. This album, I think, is just an amazing, strong body of work.

Can you give us a preview of some other records you might have coming out soon?
I just recently worked with Jessie Ware. I’m really excited about what I did with her. But for me, it’s really been my usual suspects. I have the people in my life that I love to work with. I love these people like Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj, Miguel, and Diggy Simmons. Also, I’m excited about the music that I’ve been doing with one of my favorite rappers. He’s one of the best rappers of our generation, possibly that best rapper of our generation, but I can’t tell you know who it is yet.

Please, can you give us some hints?
I’ll put it like this: in a world where rap doesn’t sell a lot of albums, this is one of the guys from our generation from the last three to four years that has managed to sell albums. He’s amazing and he is credible, and he’s a real artist. I’m just excited about that work that I’ve been doing with him.

Shit, is he from NY?
No, he’s not.

Okay… no more questions. We’re going to just have to wait for it.
You’ll know. And this is only out of respect for him because he’s like no talk, no tweets, no Instagram, no nothing. So, this is purely out of respect for him. You know, but as time gets closer, I would surely love to talk about it with you.

Wow. Well, I got two or three artists in my head because I know two or three artists that have that rule [laughs]. So, I guess we’ll just leave it to the fans to pin point it.
And it may be two out of the three you’re thinking of, who knows? I don’t know [laughs].