Usher - Raymond vs. Raymond

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Is Usher's divorce album a new carnation of Marvin Gaye's "Here, My Dear," or just another link in Usher's usual repertoire?

“There are three sides to every story. There is one side, there is the other and then there’s the truth.” With an introduction like that it is clear that the last few years in the public eye for reasons other than music have taken a toll on Usher. The turbulent courting and marriage and the messy divorced that followed included, family disputes, paternity requests, and countless other claims which all led Usher Raymond to unfamiliar territory. Raymond vs. Raymond is Usher’s attempt to put it all in perspective and reenter the public eye with what made him famous to begin with – Music.

After the spoken word introduction, the album musically kicks off with “Monstar.” The track itself is a testament of what is to come on the album. New-age production, seeing the singer try new things vocally (Auto-tune and other studio tricks) and delivery wise as well. Unfortunately on “Monstar” the enormous drums drown out the soft vocals. The next album cut “Hey Daddy” which was the first single, is classic Usher giving his attention to the ladies. It’s one of Usher’s poorer lead singles, but it still does a respectable job commanding attention. The highlight of the album follows with the well-crafted and delivered “There Goes My Baby.” It’s a refreshing effort that sees Usher channel his Confessions glory. Usher sings effortlessly over the albums most organic production. The track is clearly the best song on the album, from a songwriting standpoint. Rarely does an artist deliver a double meaning loaded track like “There Goes My Baby” with such elegance.

The sure hit of “Lil Freak” is up next. Producer Palow da Don impressively flips Stevie Wonder's “Living for the City” while Usher and Nicki Minaj bless the track. The effort is more Trey Songz than it is classic Usher, but he is able to sell “Lil Freak” with a sense of class that escapes many of his peers. The track will surely be in radio and club rotation for months to come. The will.i.am and Ludacris guest spots that follow are forgettable tracks even though they may be future singles, while “Mars vs. Venus” see’s Usher approaching his best.

Mid-way through the album, the listener can’t help but feel a disconnect between the singer's spoken introduction and the music that followed. So there are signs of the “truth” that he mentioned throughout, he spends the majority of the time on classic Usher topics over top of trendy production. He does it better than most of his peers, but the false sense of exposure is tough to swallow. In fact, not until track 10, “Papers,” does Usher outwardly address the Raymond vs. Raymond-implied divorce topic. Lyrics like “I’m losin my mind, cant figure out who’s wrong or right / I know it’s you I love, but then I also know it’s you I don’t like” show Ushers mindset about his recent public breakup. When he sings, “(I done took) all I can take but u leave me no options girl” toward the end of the track and follows it with a chant inspired “I’m ready to sign them papers,” Usher successfully creates a modern-day divorce anthem.

The very next track Usher returns to his safe zone with “So Many Girls.” The track features Lady Gaga like production and is pop first and foremost. “Guilty” featuring T.I. follows and is above average track. It’s good to here T.I.P. featured after his year hiatus and he blends in well with Usher. The album concludes with the sexy “Making Love.” The listener can’t help but feel that Usher could make these types of songs whenever he wants. It’s truly one of his strong suits as an artist, being able to deliver material in such a convincing manner.

The album will undeniably produce a track that ensures Raymond vs. Raymond’s legacy. It’s not Usher's best work by any means, but its good moments are strong. It may not satisfy the public’s desire for the aforementioned truth but it should do a bit to quench their thirst. One thing is for sure and that is R&B with Usher is more exciting than R&B without Usher.

Purchase Raymond v. Raymond by Usher

43 Comments

  • MusicFan

    This was a good album in my honest opinion. A very good album. Way much better than Here I stand but still falls short of Confessions of course...

  • CHi-reppin

    LOL, ramond vs ramond!?? Get the fuck outta here. People want to hear music, not the nigga next door whining and wallowing in his own self pity. Bring it back to Usher, nobody gives a fuck about raymond!

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  • DJ Transition

    The album was good. It wasn't the best out of Usher, but it was what I expected. The review is horrible because it doesn't say a lot of bad things about the album and if you're going to get paid to write reviews, go to school first and learn how to write. "It’s good to here T.I.P. featured after his year hiatus and he blends in well with Usher."

  • lankaistai

    its a good album but i wish that he included traqcks like, blockin',the realest,one hand and next contestant on the album, it would have been unstoppable

  • Rudo

    Good album! Genius approach wit Papers and bangers like Lil Freak and my fav Pro Lover!!

  • this is a real frisbee for out the car window

    Need I say more? It is fuckin usher, its no marvin gaye!

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  • Mattweezy

    Not a classic...but Usher outdoes Here I Stand. It doesnt have a song that is really like the Great Moving Mountains....but this album is a win all the way. Theres better slow songs like Papers and There Goes My Baby....the club songs are great too. Hot beats. THe king is back!

  • JO

    Don't care what anybody says, Usher stepped it up BIG time on this album. On the first full spin I immediately felt that unmistakable grown & sexy vibe, unlike I did when I listened "Here I Stand". Not only is the production on point on this one, but the lyrics actually sound like they should be sung (meaning there's not a whole bunch of tracks where he's just rambling through the records and forcing words to rhyme with others). He actually gets to the point in these songs.There's a few of those "try to fit in with today's gimmicky bs" tracks on here (She Don't Know, Lil Freak) but I can honestly say that the majority of this album has that Confessions feel (not all tracks but majority of them) so with that being said I'm most definitely feeling this album.

  • HANK

    this album sounds better and better each time i listen to it. i think the best song on the album is there goes my baby.. and hey daddy, pro lover, mars vs. venus are also great hey daddy really grew on me cuz i used to hate it

  • larry 2k9

    3rd Best Usher Album

  • sun_god7

    Not Usher's best - he has done better. Best R&B are the Erykah and Raheem DeVaughn albums.

  • KBFM

    Album falls short in places. Some songs are top notch, but the collabs dont do a great deal for this album. Nicky Minaj and Will. I. Am shouldnt be on this album! For a great RNB album from this year, go and get Jaheim - Another Round.

  • kpanilaryea28

    not as bad as the review says but still not what usher can bring.

  • sokrispy

    THIS CD GROWS .ON U ........

  • so krispy

    THE CD GROWS ON U ......

  • CAN'T....BAN......DUKE....... BOY

    This album gets 4 stars..........the Will.I.Am, P. Diddy and T.I. tracks are very low tracks.........this album had a chance to be borderline classic but the tracks he has with rappers are the songs that are weak...........If he'd replaced about 4 or 5 tracks this album would be a classic........... The Dream is the most underrated artist in R & B the guy albums are classic

  • John Cochran

    I think its safe to say Usher has reached and passed his peak as an artist. He's still the best voice in the game, but he'll always be compared to confessions and this isnt close, although I do like it better than Trey Songz last joint. Venus vs Mars is one of the best songs of his career, but it's surrounded by songs that don't compare.

  • C-arson

    Usher sucks, Cop that Raheem Devaughn- The Love and War

  • duece2

    2 at best. Here i Stand was mucho better than this

  • duece2

    2 at best. Here i Stand was mucho better than this

  • Da Face

    I would give it a 4 but I'll rate it 5 here for balance. It was without a doubt better than "Here I Stand" with nice single as well as pretty decent album cuts and ballads which aren't always the case with Usher Raymond. And personally I found "Guilty" to be an above average cut irrespective of the T.I. contribution.

  • sucka

    funny shit i had this cd so early the generic songs were weak until he went back to the studio and made omg, lil freak and she dont know......cause his original singles papers and daddys home aint doin shit. OMG by far gonna keep this cd sellin when it gets out, this is a pop album

  • The Gold Standard

    The high's on the album are great but, there are a lot of fillers. Not quite a 2.5, more like a 3. Here I Stand > RVR

  • yahyo

    fair review. I thought their were a few tracks, but it just wasn't a good album.

  • ZeTroof

    so sad how both Usher AND kels are being outshined by Trey Songz. NeYo done gone straight POP and Chris Breezy completely destroyed his entire career with one fell swoop...literally. I don't want Trey Songz to be the "king of R&B" though...he doesn't make great albums...

    • Nu Drenaline

      urrrsher urrrrsher and r kelly have just fallen off. It happens to everyone and its gonna happen to you and me wtv it is we do. And I don't believe cris breezy has fallen off skill wise, unless your talking sales. So which are you talking about sales or skills, seems like your trying to compare both.

  • Chocolate Pain

    i hate R&B but i love usher... with that being said. According to this review Here I stand was 3 and half stars and R V. R is 2 and a half... fuck outta here this album blows that album out of the water

    • kanye fan

      i agree with you man, album was dope, way better than here i stand, at the very very least i say it gets a 3.5, i personally give it like a really high 4

    • Gods_Son23

      here i stand was inconsistent but i thought that had better stand-outs than this album and would pick it over this one also.

    • Flawl3$$

      here i stand was much better.

  • TalentDisplay

    Sorry there are some songs that are just FIRE like PAPERS that shit is FUEGO by itself. 4 for the haters TWITTER @TalentDisplay YOUTUBE.COM/TalentDisplay

  • hiphopscout

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  • RSX

    I agree with this review, but I feel like the review was more 3 than 2.5

    • alex vvvvvv

      i totally agree, after u read the review it leaves off a positive aura if anything not a 2.5, at least a 3 or a 3.5. i mean 2.5 means the album is very ok, the review itself makes the album seem more than avg as it mentions at least 5 songs that are good and none that are less than avg. wtf

  • digga

    i totally agree that there goes my baby is the best song on the album.i played that joint 6 times in a row today at work.that's a sign of an excellent track..i bought the song(along with "more") on itunes so i don't know if the whole cd is good.too bad to hear it wasn't