Have you BEen awaiting Usher’s Return???
HE’S BACK! Here’s our BE Reviewed on Raymond vs Raymond…
Usher Raymond IV has arguably the greatest challenge of his R&B music career ahead of him as he prepares to release Raymond vs. Raymond, his sixth studio album. After the lackluster sales and mediocre success of his prior release, 2008’s Here I Stand (boasting just one #1 single, “Love In This Club”), Usher stands at a crossroads in his career. The album appeared to be a misstep, considering his highest grossing release, 2004’s Confessions was a blockbuster, selling over 25 million copies worldwide – with four consecutive #1 singles – and thus captured the rare Diamond certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. His first four albums each eclipsed the other in popularity, leaving Here I Stand as the album that appears out of place.
The goal is apparent. Usher must reconnect with his fans and provide classic albums like Confessions. “I think I got too real [with Here I Stand], explains Usher on his local Atlanta radio station WHTA-FM. “I was in an honest place with my marriage and then having kids,” he explains. It’s clear that with the ink recently drying on the divorce papers from his former wife Tameka Foster-Raymond (the buzz-single, “Papers,” appears to be loosely based on their relationship); Usher believes Raymond vs. Raymond will be the album to get him back on his superstar trajectory. He asserts the name is not based upon the apparent contention between him and his ex-wife. “We can be our own best friends and worst enemies. This album is about me versus me. You get a lot of different situations, a lot of depth here because I am a complex person.”
After listening to the music, I think Usher will be successful in accomplishing is re-claiming of his R&B throne. Mr. Raymond currently has two hit singles on the charts, “Hey Daddy” (sometimes featuring Plies) and “Little Freak,” featuring female rap juggernaut Nicki Minaj. Both songs boast catchy hooks and while “Daddy” demonstrates the comforts of a relationship that has not lost its fire, “Freak” is all about the single life and the benefits (“If you f*cking with me, really f*cking with me, you’ll let her put her hands in your pants be my little freak!”) thereof.
Raymond vs. Raymond is a solid release with many more hit singles to come. A rumored 3rd single, “There Goes My Baby,” is reminiscent of Michael Jackson circa his Off The Wall days and “OMG,” featuring Will.I.Am is a hot dance track that could easily have been a hit record on the Black Eyed Peas’ The E.N.D. Usher certainly demonstrates his versatility and paints a complex picture of himself as he said he would. Two of our favorite tracks are “Mars vs. Venus,” a slow, passionate track sure to be the cause of procreation in the near future if not already; And “Pro Lover,” a reggae-tinged track that after listening will erase any doubts that Usher lost his swag.
Fellow Atlantans Ludacris and T.I. also appear on the release, with “She Don’t Know,” and “Guilty,” respectively. Both tracks are single-worthy but Usher seems to be at his best when going solo on this release. The only track that could be considered a misstep is his inclusion of his recording for the NBA (National Basketball Association), “More.” While it is understandable why it is included, the track feels like playtime in comparison to the other tracks on the album.
To summarize, Usher has a hit on his hands. This release is very solid. It may not eclipse the resounding success of Confessions, but it certainly is a strong step in the right direction. Congratulations are in order, Mr. Usher Raymond IV! Track listing and album BEview below!
2. Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home)
3. There Goes My Baby
4. Lil Freak feat. Nicki Minaj
5. She Don’t Know feat. Ludacris
6. OMG featuring Will.I.Am
7. Mars vs. Venus
8. Pro Lover
9. Foolin’ Around
11. So Many Girls
12. Guilty feat. T.I.
14. Making Love (Into the Night)
15. BONUS TRACK: More