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Raymond Vs Raymond - Usher

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Genre: R&B & Soul - Pop R&B / Artist: Usher / Audio CD / Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Monstar
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 (feat. will.i.am)
7 Mars vs Venus
8 Pro Lover
9 Foolin' Around
10 Papers
11 So Many Girls
12 Guilty (feat. T.I.)
13 Okay
14 Making Love (Into The Night)

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    • More +
      24.06.2010 11:54
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      The review title says it all really - another decent R&B album from US singer Usher

      - About the album -

      Ushers tracks are quite same-y, going from the club based dance tracks to the slower, more sensual ballads. This album also features upbeat tracks such as the single O.M.G. and Down and ballads such as Okay but there are also quite a few more midtempo, middle of the road type tracks such as Guilty which are quite upbeat but lyrically resemble ballads.

      The majority of tracks are quite catchy and thats what appeals most to me. I've had a couple of songs from this album stuck in my head over the last while and after having listened to it a few times, its hard not to walk away with some of it still playing in your head. The tracks are pretty understated when it comes to instrumentation, which are mainly keyboards I think, the vocals are given precidence and I can't say that I notice any real degradation compared to the tracks that feature on his previous album (called Here I Stand), going by memory. Of course the club based dance tracks have quite heavy beats which work well given the type of track they are, indeed I'd say that the single OMG is comparable to his earlier single Yeah!. Down demonstrates quite an edgy, futuristic sound with the background music.

      I don't follow Usher as an artist in terms of the people he works with musically or his personal life really (although I did once see his E! True Hollywood Story which was interesting but I digress), instead I tend to only buy his albums when I notice that a new album has been released, so I'm afraid I can't provide too much in the way of detailed information about the album musically but I like to think I can give a fairly decent review of my impressions of it as a casual fan. I was particularly keen on his previous album, Here I Stand, so I did have quite high hopes for the follow up and I wouldn't say that I've been disappointed with it, yet I also wouldn't say that its clearly better than it either. It features the usual traits of his previous albums, like I've already mentioned the mix of tempo's and the catchiness, plus there are one or two tracks with collaborations, such as Guilty that features T.I., O.M.G. that features Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am and So Many Girls that features P. Diddy.

      Another feature of this album which may or may not be seen as a plus side is the quick what I'll call the 'lead in clip' or in other words, a quick audio clip that plays just before the start of the track itself, I guess to help it 'flow' a bit better. Thats another thing thats been pretty consistent when it comes to Ushers albums, that they flow quite well and thus have been well produced. The first track is called Monstar and that introduces the album, its another more dialogue based track.

      Overall this album falls short of being one of my favourite albums of his, yet I would still recommend it. Its got some pretty catchy and fun tracks and the quality is good enough vocally and in general, although I still prefer the albums Confessions and Here I Stand.


      - General Track Rundown -

      For those of you not bothered about reading the block of text above /\ here's a basic rundown of the tracks and a short sentence or two about it (some I could think of more to say than others).

      1 - Monstar - Introductory, dialogue based track

      2 - Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home) - A very catchy mid-tempo track

      3 - There Goes My Baby - A slower mid tempo track

      4 - Lil Freak (featuring Nicki Minaj) - An uptempo track with a background beat and vocals that you'll either love or hate. This is also quite a catchy track.

      5 - She Don't Know (featuring Ludacris) - Another uptempo track, this one is less catchy but it has quite a good beat. It becomes quite understated/trails off before picking up again.

      6 - OMG (featuring Will.I.Am) - The recent hit single, OMG is a club/dance track and its very catchy, although its very much another love it or hate it type track. I believe in the background are American football fans chanting.

      7 - Mars vs. Venus - One of the slowest tracks on the album, this is one for those bedroom moments(!). Its not very catchy and its a bit too long and boring for my tastes, I'm not so keen on such tracks as their a bit bland IMO...

      8 - Pro Lover - Another catchy track with a good beat to it, this is a fun, upbeat yet somewhat understated song, that has quite a 'summer-y' feel to it.

      9 - Foolin' Around - This is a midtempo song with a sombre lyrical content, although its got quite a light sound to it, if you know what I mean. This track has piano backing (a piano playing in the background). This track is pretty catchy though not as memorable as others. This track features some pretty good vocals towards the end.

      10 - Papers - This is another midtempo song, which is equally catchy yet not overly memorable. Its also quite a low-key song. Its neither particularly brilliant not bad, this is a 'middle-of-the-road' track.

      11 - So many Girls (featuring P. Diddy) - This song has an orchestral intro. Its an alright track although its definitely not one of the better ones in my opinion, its another filler rather than a killer track. It sounds quite bland and is too dialogue based and the beat is pretty basic, so this one was a bit of a let down to me, though guys may enjoy this one more than I do lol.

      12 - Guilty (featuring T.I.) - This is one of my favourite tracks on the album as its *very* catchy and it showcases Ushers vocals quite well. Its an uptempo (though not a club type dance track) and its one you'll want to click your fingers to, if you know what I mean! the beat is good and its generally a fun, catchy tracks.

      13 - Okay - This track is similar to Mars vs Venus in tone and tempo, although its a little more upbeat but not too much. This is also a 'good enough' type track, its not particularly catchy or memorable to me, its not awful but there's not much I can think to say about it, its what the title is - ok.

      14 - Making Love (Into the Night) - This is another ballad but this one is much catchier than the previous slower tracks, so I prefer it lol. Its quite light and fun, another good track.


      - Conclusions/Should I Buy It? -

      This is another quality Usher album. Is it as great as, say, 8701 or Here I Stand? no, not entirely. Is it worth bothering with then? in my opinion yes, definitely. There are two or three songs that don't particularly stand out and its not his best album to date, in my humble opinion but there are still some very catchy tracks and its another well produced album that flows from track to track quite well. If you like his previous material, you should enjoy this, so I'd recommend it to Usher fans and fans of R&B and dance/hip-hop tracks.

      This won't be for everyone and as ever, I wouldn't particularly recommend young children listen to some of the tracks since some obviously have sexual lyrics/content but musically speaking, its pretty good and it hasn't left me totally disappointed. It is quite similar to his other albums in that it features similar types of tracks (ballads, uptempo and mid tempo tracks) and so on but thats not necessarily a bad thing.

      I hope you found my review useful, thanks for reading it and thanks for any and all r/r/c's. This review is also posted on Ciao! UK under the same username.

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      • More +
        13.05.2010 02:00
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        Great album

        **Introduction**

        With Three Consecutive Massive albums, Usher Raymond has become one of Music's biggest stars. The following albums 8701, Confessions and Here I Stand are some of the biggest sellings albums of the last decade. As well as his success in the world of Music he has also branched out into a number of other avenues. Most notably his part ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers and his range of perfume and he has also opened a number of Restaurants. Usher got married in August 2007 and has since had two children with his now ex wife Tameka Foster.

        **Raymond V Raymond**

        As you would expect his latest album covers his divorce. The album was due to be released in December 2009 but the release was put back to late March and 26th April in the United Kingdom. The album features production from Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, Will.I.Am, Zaytoven, Polow da Don, RedOne, Danja, The Runners, Jim Jonsin, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and finally Bangladesh. Usher became the first artist other than Eminem to have three straight albums enter the Billboard Chart at Number One. Usher will tour the album later this year though details are yet to be announced.

        1 Monstar
        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 (feat. will.i.am)
        7 Mars vs Venus
        8 Pro Lover
        9 Foolin' Around
        10 Papers
        11 So Many Girls
        12 Guilty (feat. T.I.)
        13 Okay
        14 Making Love (Into The Night)

        **My View**

        Usher starts the album off with "Monstar" which opens with "There's three sides to every story, there's one side, there's the other and there's the truth". This is clearly a nod to his marriage which ended in divorce. This is a very catchy track which has the usual taut beats which you expect from Usher. This track has a lot of pep about it and is a good start to the album.

        Next up is "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)" which was the first single released from the album. This is another flowing up tempo track which again has some great beats. The addition of a rolling beat really adds a great touch and Usher's flowing vocals also give the song what it needs to be a very good track. This track is about when things are good in a relationship and you can't wait to get home to your wife.

        Next up is "There Goes My Baby" which features a sample of Michael Jackson's tender ballad "Lady in My Life". This track was part of the album's promotion and is a lovely progressive ballad with some great vocal licks from Usher and his usual fine falsetto. I love the way this song develops and then his emotive quality kicks in towards the end to top off this track. Very good stuff.

        Next up is "Lil Freak" which starts as a mid tempo ballad and then changes thanks to the funky beat and catchy electro sounds. This is a raunchy club track which was released as the second single in the United States. The collaboration comes from Rapper Nicki Minaj who has her own TLC like Quality about her. I love the way the rolling beat and bass hooks work together to create a fine soundstage. Especially for the Clubs.

        Next up is "She Don't Know" which has a thumping drum beat which kicks in after around 20 seconds. This track features Ludacris who provides his unique vocal style on this Bangladesh Produced track. This is another ideal Club track which is bound to go down well with the usual Usher dance breaks. This is another very strong up tempo track from the first half of the album.

        Next up is the huge single ft Will.i.Am "OMG". This is a fine test of your Hi-Fi equipment thanks to the heavy beat and the electro hooks which run along with the beat. This is a massive track and it's not difficult to understand why when it's so catchy and makes you want to dance the way it does. This track is about seeing someone in the club who just makes you stop and think "Oh My Gosh!!!". Will.i.Am provides a decent collaboration here.

        This is a lovely ballad which features a heavy beat, It's called "Mars V Venus" and is about the experience of a man and a woman getting it on and everything in the world seems right. This is a great track and really shows the difference between Usher and some of his contemoraries in that he can make a ballad with a heavy beat and make it work so wonderfully well.

        Next up is "Pro Lover" which brings the album back to a more up tempo feel. The rolling bassline is a decent backing to Usher's gentle expressive vocals and the fine backing vocals. This is another track which works well despite not quite having the spark of the best on the album it still has enough verve and vigour to be a very enjoyable track which will have many people up on the dancefloor swaying to the beat.

        Remember Confessions? well "Foolin Around" is in the same mould and is a very personal track about saying sorry for your mistakes in the relationship. The beautiful keys add a great emotive quality to the track and the way Usher moves through the lyrics is sincere and emotive. This is one of the best tracks on the album and showcases his superb ability to emote and get into the head of the listener. Great track.

        Next up is "Papers" which tells the story of a marriage ending in Divorce and the mixture of regret, resignation and sometimes relief that many people go through when they get divorced. This is another cracker from Usher and it really comes across that they tried to work things out in the relationship but just weren't able to. This is a fabulous track which is topped off by the fantastic string like keyboard effect, Brilliant.

        Next up is the up tempo stomper "So Many Girls". This features a funky fresh synth beat which is catchy and seismic at the same time. The use of vocoder is a nice touch and this is another very flowing up tempo club joint which features Diddy and is produced by Danja. This track is about having so many girls in your head and around you. I expect this is something Usher is rather used to.

        Another catchy track and this time "Guilty" also takes on a shuffling beat to change the feel slightly. This is a fine collaboration with "T.I" Who is instantly recognisable when he comes in. This is due to be the albums fourth single and I'm sure it will be another huge single for Usher. I love the beats which are taut and run along throughout the track superbly well. One of the best up tempo tracks on the album.

        This opens with a taut beat which gains pace and then the softer feel comes in. This track is called "Okay" and is a lovely seductive ballad which is produced by James "JLack" Lackey. Usher really showcases his vocal talent here with a fine falsetto which moves seamlessly into his deeper tones. This track is about meeting a girl in a club and bringing them back to yours. This is a fine ballad and one of the best on the album.

        "Making Love (Into the Night)" is the closing track on the album and has a very similar sound to his previous album "Here I Stand". This is another flowing ballad which closes the album very well. It's not hard to see what this track is about as the title is pretty self explanatory. This is a soulful, seductive track about getting romantic with your partner throughout the night. Great stuff.

        **Overall**

        There we have it, Usher's sixth album "Raymond V Raymond" and there's more of the same style and emotion from Usher which we have come to expect over the last decade or so but there's another side which comes through. Usher has become a more well rounded and emotive artist since the 2001 release 8701. This is Usher now in his 30's and he has evolved as an artist. On this evidence I can see him continuing to develop and change over the next decade. Another fine album from one of Music's hottest properties.

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        • More +
          07.04.2010 09:40
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          Usher's sixth album

          "Raymond v. Raymond" came towards the start of 2010 as the sixth album from the Atlanta-based R&B singer Usher (Raymond). Coming with a concept of showing two contrasting personalities, this album has him moving things on with more contemporary R&B as he also explores himself and how he's managed to get to where he's at both in his career and personal life.

          1. "Monstar"

          The album kicks off with a little introductory piece and one that gives a nice bit of context to give us a real understanding of what the artist is pushing for this time around. From an electronic and spacey start, it soon opens up into a gentle, danceable number and one that gets you grooving and excited about what he's got to offer as he takes on more of the House sounds from Europe which have steadily infiltrated themselves into the contemporary Hip Hop and R&B world.

          **Five Stars**

          2. "Hey Daddy"

          This tune bursted-out as the lead single to the album and one that seems to do a great job of representing what exactly we should be expecting of the singer in the point of his career as he sits quite comfortably alongside R. Kelly as an artist in the R&B world that can't really be taken from the (joint) top and so can come out with quite generic tunes such as this one to warm things up, but not do anything all that special cand still come up with the goods.

          **Five Stars**

          3. "There Goes My Baby"

          Here we see that Rico Love and Jim Jonsin come together to push some African-styled drumming to act as a harsh backing to a song that's guided mostly through a piano and a softly-spoken Usher for a tune that switches-up the script and gives us another look on things. Usher shows that he can pull off a nice ballad and by giving us a nice range of where his vocals can be taken with a light piece of production means that it's all packaged well and will attract attention.

          **Four Stars**

          4. "Lil' Freak"
          It was obvious that this kind of thing would be pushed by Ush' here as he goes for a typical club banger and tried to hold a position in the game that he won with the "Yeah!" collaboration with Lil' Jon and Ludacris on the "Confessions" album. He's backed-up by Young Money's Nicki Minaj who comes to rhyme in a relevant way about her freak levels over some bassy beats from Atlanta's Polow Da Don.

          **Five Stars**

          5. "She Don't Know"

          This one gets Luda' coming to link back up with Usher and we see that they make for a get team as the duo come together over beats from Bangladesh (responsible from Lil' Wayne's "A Milli" and Beyoncé's "Ego") for another heavy tune designed to win over the clubs and get him as much exposure as possible in the places where the contemporary crowd is most likely to get exposed to his music. It has to be criticised for being a little too reliant on the hooks (as the verses are lacking) however it's still a big one here.

          **Five Stars**

          6. "OMG"
          This is one of the biggest singles off the album and so it really stands out on the album as on that you have to look out for. We see that on it will.i.am takes control of the production and he decides to push for a sound heard in his 2009 work with Black Eyed Peas with a heavy Euro-House, but here we get more of the grungy stuff out of the UK House sounds (rather than the continental ones that tend to push away those who dismiss Electronica as outdated 'Techno'.

          **Five Stars**

          7. "Mars vs. Venus"

          Reversing Jay-Z's "Venus vs. Mars" from the year before, we see that here we get a tune that has Usher 'bringing worlds together' as he performs a bedroom tune where he shows that he's still able to pull off the kind of thing heard from "My Way" in the hit single "Nice & Slow" in particular where he goes for some low-paced and sensual material that you'll really have to get in the mood to feel for all it offers.

          **Five Stars**

          8. "Pro Lover"

          Ush' decides that it's about time that things are shifted straight back towards something that might get over in the clubs. Although it wasn't chosen as a single to represent the record and gain a buzz as a promotional tool, we see that here we have him making a nice and effective jam that gets him jumping over beats from the veteran producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and together they make for a nice bumping tune suited to the tastes of both males and females.

          **Five Stars**

          9. "Foolin' Around"

          We see that things are clamed right down once more in order to allow Usher to push for something a little softer 9than his clubby tunes) and so he goes for a nice little ballad. You have to liken this one to "Burn" in terms of the way that it's been composed, however the delivering of the lyrics seem to reflect what's heard in "Confessions (Part 2)" much more as he sings about how he appreciates his girl for sticking with him in spite of the mistakes he's made in the past.

          **Five Stars**

          10. "Papers"

          A track which combines the talnet of both Sean Garret and Zaytoven on the beats, here we're given one of the early leaks from the record. On it, we have Usher extending things heard on the last tune where we're able to explore his personal life a little more. Here it's all about the divorce which came soon before the record and we see just how well he's able to come up with a creative piece to sing about something that you wouldn't want everyone to know about.

          **Four Stars**

          11. "So Many Girls"

          He pulls things back after a couple of rather intense and deep tunes by juxtaposing them with a jam that has him just getting loose with a care-free dance tune. This one features some hypotonic production and it seems as though he's really trying to escape all the problems heard from just before, so it seems to make for a tune that makes you appreciate how well-ordered the tracks are put together and how hectic his life was when recording the album.

          **Five Stars**

          12. "Guilty"

          This tune is just too much and stands as one of the best for me. Much of my liking for it comes from the catchy riff that runs through it. Danja kills it when you consider just how well the production is put together and from there you see that Usher tries to attack things in a bit of a different way by choosing to half-rap and half-sing the lyrics to the thing. You get a surprise appearance from T.I. (who was in prison when the tune dropped and it makes for an overall killer within the album.

          **Five Stars**

          13. "Okay"

          JLack's on the beats here and we see that he decides that it's about time that we got more of the sexual material that people really like to get out of Usher and other similar male R&B singers. I thought that Usher really did a good job in the way that he went at this one as he does it by taking us from the club as the final slow am is played from where things typically go from that point once you've met someone there.

          **Five Stars**

          14. "Making Love"

          The album ends a tune that has him keeping things in the same sort of feel as the last one. Here we have him deciding to extend the ideas heard on "Trading Places" from his 2008 album "Here I Am" whereby he comes to sing about role reversal where he allows his girl to take control over him and tell him to do all that he asks. He makes good use of his higher vocal range here and comes to top the album off in a way that has been seen through the duration of the record.

          **Four Stars**

          Although a few of the tunes within the album sound as though they just don't have any weight to them and show a decline in the artist who really was able to finally get acknowledged by the world by 2004 (three albums in). However, if you listen a few times you have to say that most grow on you and the solid singles keep things together to keep his run at the top of R&B rolling on into another decade.

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