Collaborations seem to be all the rage now-a-days and Usher brings in the big guns for his sixth studio album. Vocals from Will.I.Am, Ludacris and T.I. are backed up with production work by Jermaine Dupri and The Neptunes amongst others.
Usher Raymond IV, to give the lad his full name, tried to hype up the album by saying that it would be â€œracy, risky and edgy, and sometimes about personal experiences.â€ Maybe these two things go hand in hand because I know very little about the man himself and found this album relatively flat. Long-standing Usher fans are likely to relate more to some of the tracks. â€œPapersâ€ is an insight to his world rocked by divorce proceedings and â€œFoolin’ Aroundâ€ is the star at his apologetic best, a track that highlights his amazing voice whilst demonstrating his rapping skills.
Initial sales seem to reflect that this album is not aimed at the mainstream, with â€œHey Daddy (Daddyâ€™s Home)â€, the albumâ€™s first released single only reaching #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It had greater success on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and this may just indicate that Usherâ€™s newest offerings are not going to cross genres like previous hits, â€œYeahâ€ and â€œU Remind Me.â€
It is an album of maturity but unfortunately it looks like he has sacrificed his youthful energy as this albums lack a sense of vigor and the droning nature of songs blend them together, rather than distinguishing them. This being said, there were some exceptions to this rule. â€œLil Freakâ€ is the albumâ€™s official second single and whilst initial sales arenâ€™t great I think these may pick up the more this song is heard because it is a decent club track. â€œMoreâ€, the albumâ€™s final track, is also more upbeat and shows that Usher can still get people on dance floors.
This album is a decent offering but because it is the sixth one Usher has given the world, I guess I expected some boundaries to be pushed or some new musical paths to be tread but maybe this is my fault not his. The album is a solid R&B offering and demonstrates that Usher knows where his strengths lie and those who have always liked him will certainly not be disappointed.
01. Monstar (05.02)
05. She Donâ€™t Know feat. Ludacris (04.03)
07. Mars vs. Venus (04.23)
08. Pro Lover (05.03)
09. Foolin’ Around (04.11) *
10. Papers (04.21)
11. So Many Girls (04.36)
13. Okay (03.15)
14. Making Love (Into The Night) (03.36)
Usher – Foolin’ Around *