From the start, Summer Walker positioned herself as R&B's new unguarded heart, along the lines of Jhene Aiko or SZA. The 23-year-old singer's initial appeal was in her ability to be frank: "I just need some dick / I just need some love," she sang on her breakout single "Girls Need Love." Instead of being careful with her words, she was saying what she meant, singing in the plain-spoken language that countless millennial women use daily in their group chats. The singer's debut album, Over It, continues to use the vernacular of millennial women but seeks help from R&B staples like Usher and PARTYNEXTDOOR, who have been relatively quiet over the past couple of years. The album makes one thing clear: Walker's music is so charming she can summon your favorite male vocalist without much persuasion.
Over It follows Walker's recent projects like Last Day of Summer and CLEAR with songs like "Potential," "Fun Girl," and "Off of You" capitalizing on the sound she's already established. Prior to Over It, Walker only had one feature to boast, although it was a huge one: Drake on "Girls Need Love Remix." Her new London on da Track-produced album is stacked with features from her peers like Bryson Tiller, 6LACK, and Jhene Aiko. But her collaborations with Usher and PARTYNEXTDOOR take the album beyond the moments of solitude we were expecting.
In 1997, a baby-faced 19-year-old made a bodacious track about an absolutely messy love triangle. "You Make Me Wanna…" opened Usher's My Way album and made its way into the hearts of fans by singing words most people would be too afraid to say. Only a year older than Walker, the song creeps onto Over It, with the singer giving the sample a modern spin from a woman's perspective. "You make me wanna come through, quarter after two / Just to put it down on you," she sings on the hook. "Come Thru" is a depiction of modern love with the singer ready to dismantle her dating roster for the one person she can't get out of her head. Sampling the song would have been enough of a trip down memory lane to satisfy Usher fans, but Over It has more tricks up its sleeve. Usher joins Walker on the track, interpolating his own song. "Before anything happens between us / Be sure you're ten toes down before I pull out this car," he sings. He closes his verse by saying, "Yeah, you got somebody / I been in this predicament," reminding us that "You Make Me Wanna…" is still a national treasure and Usher's legacy is certain.
Elsewhere on the album, Walker enlists PARTYNEXTDOOR on "Just Might," where she expresses her frustrations after a series of failed relationships. "Love is a losin' game and I just can't take no more / Said love is a losin' game, so I just might be a hoe," she sings on the hook. This might not have been how Amy Winehouse expected her 2006 song to be reprised, but Walker tailors it to suit her needs. PARTYNEXTDOOR jumps on the track with the energy he once had on 2014's PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO, even if that means his lyrical content is slightly outdated. "I don't know anybody / That work at Follies, that don't fuck anybody," he sings of the Atlanta strip club. His choice to focus on the woman's body count is jarring in comparison to how free Walker has been about her sexuality. But, questionable verse aside, it feels good to hear his voice again.
The seven features makes Summer Walker's Over It feel like a shared victory. The collaborations are a high point of the album, but Walker didn't need them; her allure could have captivated listeners on its own. She deserves to be congratulated for reintroducing us to some of R&B's innovators. She's one of them now, too.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE.