Usher
Raymond v. Raymond


2.5
average

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
March 30th, 2010 | 51 replies | 12,946 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There are three sides to every story. Usher apologizes. Usher gets women. Usher apologizes. Again.

A rather gregarious friend of mine once said: “I don’t write love letters. I write apology letters.”

So seems the case for Usher Raymond IV as well, who releases Raymond v. Raymond as his sixth full-length album and the follow up to 2008’s Here I Stand. Yet, in concept, his latest album seems to be more of a follow-up to the double-platinum Confessions, in which Usher profiled the breakup between him and Chilli of TLC. Songs included the provocative “Confessions Pt. 2”, in which Usher confesses to impregnating a mistress of his. The song is, essentially, an apology letter, and Usher promises to clean up his act. Confessionsalso included “Yeah,” so Usher’s credibility on this apology seemed shaky even at the time.

He moved onto Here I Stand, which broke away from the breakup theme, and focused on what Usher does best--crossing R&B vocals with hip-hop production to create hits like “Love in This Club.” Unfortunately, Usher has suffered another breakup since then--this time a high-profile divorce with Tameka Foster--and has returned to the style of Confessions. At least in principle.

On “Monstar,” the album starts high-concept, with Usher’s spoken word offering the dictum: “There are three sides to every story. There’s one side; there’s the other, and then there’s the truth.” In these immediate ten seconds, it seems like Usher has something up his sleeve, a real focused album. Then the computerized voiceovers come in, characterizing Usher in a few words as “captivating,” “superstar,” and “seductive,” and quite simply, “sex.” After more hushed voiceovers and ambient drones, a four-on-the-floor beat develops, and synth strings form the backing accompaniment for Usher’s trademark vocals, which have not diminished at all. While Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis do some of the best production work on the album here, the song’s lyrics start the album off on an awkward foot with Usher’s typical club prowling: “You’re looking lonely, and you’re longing for a lover/You’ll know I’ll be here all night.”

This constant switch of theme and mood plagues the entire album, with only three songs truly embracing the theme of breakup and divorce: “Papers,” “Foolin’ Around,” and “Guilty.” “Papers” is likely the strongest of these, an R&B song with no frills and strong production. “Foolin’ Around” could easily be titled “Confessions pt. III”, as it simply states that Usher has been fooling around with mistresses, yet again, after apologizing on an album from six years ago. “Guilty” pleads with his ex-wife to not send him to jail, then features T.I., who just got out of jail.

If all of these songs are to be taken autobiographically, then Usher is indeed a classic satyr, but that is not relevant to the discussion of the music. Much of the production is surprisingly well-done, aside from one of the worst will.i.am tracks, “OMG”, in recent memory, where he decides to auto-tune Usher’s vocals over a recycled “I Gotta Feeling” disco beat. Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Lil’ Freak” is a surprising left turn for an Usher album, embracing the recent bisexual trend in pop music led by Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, it is hard to embrace these strengths on such a predictably unfocused album.



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The club’s the thing wherein to catch the conscience of Usher....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2010



17200 Comments


hahaha oh man that summary is great.

MUNGOLOID
March 30th 2010



4277 Comments


"Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)" is sooooooooooooooo whack.

usher done fell off.

bloc
March 30th 2010



34679 Comments


Perfect summary, very very nice.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2010



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yessss

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

synergy
March 30th 2010



151 Comments


This guy is definitely fading away from the spotlight. Only heard the one single from his last album and didn't even know he had a new one till I saw this.

bloozclooz
March 30th 2010



1770 Comments


love the concept for the album art.

"hey, let's put a picture of me on it, so they don't forget who's music this is"

"yeah man, that's a great idea! let's rub baby oil on you!"

*rubbing begins*

EBTCardMania
March 31st 2010



512 Comments


I don't think it's a coincidence he was on American Idol this week. He needs to boost his career, and it's the quickest way to get some results.

cirq
March 31st 2010



9263 Comments


You got it, you got it bad...something something something.. Wtf happened to this guy?

BSX
March 31st 2010



1633 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

MTV Hits and MTV Jams were having an "Usher Day" showing his past videos, but I haven't really like any of his work enough to buy it.

Digging: La Roux - Trouble In Paradise

PrettyToney
March 31st 2010



31 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Anything prior to Here I Stand was good. Usher has lost his inspiration.
There was a second when I thought he was the new mj.

Collaborating with Nikki Minaj just because shes big at the moment is weak. Hopefully he doesn't go the way of nelly and continue to make horrible music until he fades completely.

Powerban
March 31st 2010



2380 Comments


Confessionsalso included “Yeah,” so Usher’s credibility on this apology seemed shaky even at the time.


Just need a space between "Confessionsalso".

Apollo
March 31st 2010



10266 Comments


great review

but I will not be listening to this

Baphomet
March 31st 2010



7364 Comments


hahaha great summary and great review.

needless to say, I won't be checking this out.

pneumoniahawk93
March 31st 2010



275 Comments


Summary is perfect. Maybe him, Nicki Minaj and Ray L should have some kind of collaboration.

BSX
March 31st 2010



1633 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Nelly. . .Furtado?

musicConsumer
March 31st 2010



494 Comments


So maybe this album doesn't stay true to it's initial concept but its made for mass consumption therefore it shouldn't be judged on consistency of mood and theme rather it should be judged on its ability to be played on the radio which without hearing it I assume that aleast 4 of these songs will be played ad nauseum

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
March 31st 2010



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Judging by his choice of singles, probably not.

Satellite
March 31st 2010



20687 Comments


I sort of hate all modern R&B-type shit, but I'd be remiss to not say that "Yeah" blew my mind the first time I heard it.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels

musicConsumer
March 31st 2010



494 Comments



"Judging by his choice of singles, probably not."


Plus Justin Bieber is way better

BSX
April 1st 2010



1633 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Satellite I hear you, it sounds the same just a different person



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