Is Usher back? No one has seen the the R&B legend in true form since his 2004 mega album “Confessions.” While he did make an effort with his last album “Here I Stand,” it was an unappreciated effort, and seemed Usher the family man had replaced the dancing, singing star everyone loved. Usher is fresh off a divorce and is seemingly back to the music, as his new album Raymond v. Raymond hits stores March 30th.
Usher opens the album with the track Monstar, stating “There are three sides to every story. There’s one side, there’s the other, and then there’s the truth.” Monstar offers a Michael Jackson type flow, which is evident as it was produced by the music industry legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Usher’s popular second single Daddy’s Home follows the intro track and features production by The Runners. The mood is slowed down with the track “There Goes My Baby” which Usher proclaims his feelings for his lady as he sings “I been waiting all day to wrap my hands around your waist, and kiss your face/Wouldn’t trade this feeling for nothing.” Usher follows up with his popular single “Lil Freak” featuring Nicki Minaj.
Bangladesh produced another catchy track on the song “She Dont’ Know” which features Ludacris. Musical wizard Will.I.Am lends his production on the track “OMG” which Usher talks about falling in love with a lady on the club dance floor. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis slow it down as Usher gets a little sexual on the song “Mars vs. Venus” as he sings “This is the big bang so unpredictable/sex, love and find out whose in control/Mars verses Venus.” The tempo speeds up on another Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production “Pro Lover,” as Usher talks about his professional experience and adding a woman’s name to his Hall of Fame list. A classic collabo with Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael-Cox is up next on the track “Foolin Around” which sounds similar to Usher’s 2004 hit song “Confessions.” The Billboard #1 single “Papers” is next and followed by an oddly placed song “So Many Girls” which features Diddy chanting all over the track. Usher teamed up with the king T.I. on the track “Guilty” as he sings about being famous and the trouble and jealousy it causes in relationships. Family lends a hand on the next track “Okay” with production from Usher’s younger brother James Lackey. “Okay” is the standard R&B song inviting sexual acts, but Usher’s vocals and J.Lack production make this song acceptable. The album closes with the Jim Jonsin and Rico Love produced love ballad “Make Love (Into The Night).”
There is no clear connection as to how the tracks relate to the Raymond vs. Raymond theme. Many tracks are oddly placed and some tracks could have been left off the final album tracklist. However, this album takes more than one listen as it grows with each spin, and there is some great lyrical content hidden in several of the tracks. Usher is 31 years old and we will seemingly never get another “Confessions” album from him, but he makes an attempt to get back to his R&B elite status with this album.
Overall: 3 out of 5
Tracks 2 Check For: “There Goes My Baby,” “Mars vs. Vensus,” “Okay,” “Fooling Around”
By: Sarah J