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Raymond v Raymond

Usher

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iTunes Review

This album is Mastered for iTunes. Two years in the making, Raymond v Raymond is the product of conflicted circumstances. The singer hoped he could reconstruct the formula of Confessions, the smash 2004 album that used his relationship troubles as source material for a series of platinum pop songs. Raymond v Raymond was a rockier process, with rockier results, but it still offers a lot of fascinating moments. “Monstar,” “OMG” and “So Many Girls” take a crack at the robotic club sounds currently in vogue, but Usher’s style is too limber and sweet to fit in this mold. He fares better on “Foolin’ Around,” “Guilty” and “Papers,” which showcase his agile, still-young vocals, and feel honest, both musically and lyrically. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis deliver “Mars vs. Venus” and “Pro Lover,” two songs that prove that when Usher is paired with a creative, tasteful production team, he can still pull off sexed-up, hypnotic R&B songs. Created by RedOne, the Swedish producer-songwriter who is responsible for most of Lady Gaga’s biggest hits, “More” shows that the future pop landscape might yet hold a place for a fraught prince like Usher.

Customer Reviews

Biggest Mismanagement of a Superstar Ever.

I’ll start by saying I’m a HUGE Usher fan. Of mancrush proportions. So this review makes me sad to have to write.

Let’s journey back to 2004. Coming off the largest selling album of the 2000’s, 2004’s Confessions, there was no bigger superstar in music than Usher. None. Not Timberlake, Kanye, Jay-Z, U2, Beyonce, or anyone. Poised to take over the throne as the heir to Michael’s “King of Pop” throne, Usher inexplicably took a four year hiatus.

Now, let’s journey back to present day. After 2008’s solid, but ballad-heavy Here I Stand, Usher now takes us back to the club after filing for divorce from his ex-wife Tameka. Much like Confessions, the relationship turmoil was supposed to create another masterpiece – not this time. Raymond v. Raymond is a massive disappointment from track one through fifteen. Sure, there are glimmers of 2004 Usher in some tracks (most notably “More”), but the album totally falls flat in the areas where Confessions shined. There’s no heartfelt apology for the sin of adultery, there’s no angst at the loss of a loved one, and even the “club-bangers”, Usher’s calling card to stardom during the Confession’s era are either horribly produced, or in the case of “OMG” just plain horrible.

Six years after being the biggest musical star in the planet, Usher now faces a crossroads in his career. Is he the next Michael or the next R. Kelly. His last two albums have produced one album of worthy tracks and fanfare is certainly going to plummet further after fans hear this album. I would call this the single worst mismanagement of a star in music history.

Worthwhile Tracks: “Lil’ Freak”, “Mars vs. Venus”, “Foolin’ Around”, “Guilty”, “More”, and “Papers”

Track by Track Review:
1. “Monstar” – 3/10
There is no redeeming quality whatsoever about this song. Overly produced and almost nonsensical throughout

2. “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home)” – 4/10
The much maligned, inexplicable first single does have redeeming qualities now that Plies has been taken out of the equation. If you buy the album, you’ll listen a few times, then get sick of the chorus and never listen again.

3. “There Goes My Baby” – 5/10
This song had potential, but by about the two minute mark you’ll be wondering when this sexcentric, droning, ballad will end.

4. “Lil’ Freak (Feat. Nicki Minaj)” – 8/10
Who doesn’t love a good threesome? This “club” song has a slow-tempo beat, but is ultimately a resoundingly catchy. Nicki Minaj steals this song hands down. On an album that also features rap superstars Ludacris and T.I., Minaj lays the best verse on the album.

5. “She Don’t Know (Feat. Ludacris)” – 4/10
This song is pandering to become a club hit like “Yeah!” but has none of the positive qualities.

6. “OMG (Feat. Will.I.Am)” – 1/10
This song is trash. No other way to put it.

7. “Mars vs. Venus” – 7.5/10
I expected to hate this song because it’s a straight rip of the title of a Jay-Z song from the Blueprint 3, but actually found this song to be the one of the best ballads on the album.

8. “Pro Lover” – 4/10
Another sex song that has no real redeeming qualities other than explicably telling us Usher’s married days are over. We knew that, Ush.

9. “Foolin’ Around” – 9/10
This is the best track on the album hands down. It’s honest, raw, and is the only track where Usher acknowledges his past mistakes. Great song.

10. “Papers” – 8/10
The song is undoubtedly formulaic, but it’s a working formula. The song is another honest and raw song and harkens toward the 8701 days.

11. “So Many Girls” – 2/10
There is nothing positive to say about this song. Basically a 31 year-old man talking about clubbing like a 21 year old boy.

12. “Guilty (Feat. T.I.) “ – 8/10
A song about feeling as if you’re constantly on trial about cheating…most men have been here and Usher aptly puts together a good song with the help of T.I.

13. “Okay” – 3/10
There is nothing “Okay” about this song.

14. “Making Love (Into the Night)” – 4/10
Another plodding ballad about sex, only this time it seems like Usher likes the girl he’s having sex with.

15. “More” – 9.5/10
Inexplicably a bonus track, “More” is the only song on the album that has any staying power in the clubs. It’s catchy, well-produced, and is the best track on the album. No surprise Usher’s management made it an Itunes only bonus track.

About time..

I am glad Usher is getting back into that upbeat groove that we know and love. This is nothing like the simpy Here I Stand and I am happy, but at at the same time I feel like he could have done a *bit* better on this album. I like it, don't get me wrong and it does not disappoint. I just wish some of the nice "rumored" tracks were actually on this. It would have made this a smash hit from front cover to end.

Also, what's up with the clean Lil' Freak?

Good album though!

Daddy is definitely home

Usher's back? No, Usher Never Left!!!! The voice, the moves and the swag are all there. This is a grown man album. Most young r&b guys want to be rappers, Usher shows that talent and timeless r&b music is here to stay

Biography

Born: October 14, 1978 in Chattanooga, TN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

After Usher Raymond was spotted by a LaFace record executive at a talent show in his hometown of Atlanta, his career took off in no time. The 14-year-old auditioned for LaFace co-founder L.A. Reid, who signed the gospel choir boy to a recording contract. Raymond was introduced to the world simply as "Usher," and released his debut album of the same name in 1994, which featured co-executive producer Sean "Puffy" Combs. The first single, "Think of You," gained Usher wide recognition and reached gold...
Full Bio
Raymond v Raymond, Usher
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  • $7.99
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Contemporary R&B
  • Released: Mar 30, 2010

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