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Usher – Raymond v Raymond [Reviews]

Posted by on April 7, 2010

There’s a double meaning behind the phrase “Usher is back!” Yes, he has returned with his latest disc, Raymond v Raymond, but unlike the Usher from 2008’s Here I Stand, this Usher embraces the lascivious lifestyle he’s rumored to have lived before his marriage.

Case in point is “Lil Freak,” which features a guest verse from Nicki Minaj. Here, Usher encourages a female to go find more women for some group-sex action. Minaj has apparently bought into the idea, revealing her appreciation for lady parts and being so into the situation that she rattles off the names of Santa’s reindeer. Though separated on the CD, “So Many Girls” is the perfect continuation, set off by an uptempo melody and Usher’s list of conveniently rhyming races and nationalities.

Bound for the clubs is the Will.I.Am-penned “OMG,” proving that the Black Eyed Peas frontman took notes during the group’s sessions with David Guetta. “OMG” follows in the tradition of recent urbantronica jams such as Ne-Yo’s “Closer” and Rihanna’s “Disturbia,” as Raymond croons silly lines such as “Honey got a booty like pow, pow, pow/Honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow.”

Reaching for the stars is “Mars vs. Venus,” a sexual jaunt in which Usher compares the lovemaking to the Big Bang and makes a listener wonder how the two planets were ever at odds. “Monstar” is cosmic in its own right, with Usher waxing poetic about his prowess in the bedroom (or in the club?).

Never shy about integrating recent experiences into his songwriting (can you say Confessions?), Usher’s relationship with ex-wife Tameka Foster is explored and put on blast. “Guilty” guests T.I., but features Raymond’s “oh well” mentality with the lyrics “I guess I’m guilty for wanting to be in the club/I guess I’m guilty cause girls want to show me love.” “Papers” has Usher declaring he’s ready to end the drama and sign off on the divorce documents, while on “Foolin’ Around” he admits he’s cheating, but doesn’t really apologize for it. (No confirmation yet if this actually went down.)

Though it’s good to hear Usher’s voice again, one comes away from Raymond v Raymond feeling a little empty. Since Usher hasn’t been living like a playboy for a few years, some of the once effortless swag and braggadocios feel forced. He eased his way into fatherhood and married life on Here I Stand, but Raymond v Raymond has us guessing which personality truly reflects the artist — and the person — that he is today.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now

4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store

1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
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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