Raymond v. Raymond

BY Matt BauerPublished Jun 7, 2010

Given his recent divorce and the tepid response to 2008's anaemic Here I Stand, you might expect Raymond v. Raymond to be another cohesive, drama-fuelled blockbuster, à la Confessions. Regrettably, Usher has decided to play it safe, as Raymond is a rather passable, slicked-up R&B offering. There are a few breezy joints, like "Monstar" and the reggae-tinged "Pro Lover," and with production from the likes of Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Jermaine Dupri, this set is far from un-listenable. Vocally, Usher is as smooth as ever, so it's a shame that he chooses to waste his talent on such sleazy tripe as "Lil Freak," which details a threesome and unforgivably samples Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City." There's one truly engaging song here and that's the divorce themed "Papers," a mature and convincing love song that oozes regret and heartbreak. Ultimately, Raymond v. Raymond sounds like Usher is just making time when what he really needs to do is grow up.

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