Album Remarks & Appraisals:
2010 release, the seventh album from the multi-million selling R&B artist. Following the success of his platinum selling 2008 release Here I Stand, Raymond v Raymond takes you on a journey through the dichotomy of man. Raymond v Raymond opens up another chapter of Usher's coming of age as he tells the story of balancing the challenges of day to day life as an evolving man while jumping back on the scene as a sex symbol and fearless superstar entertainer. With the help of some of the biggest producers in music including Polow Da Don, Jim Jonsin (Lollipop), Danja (Sober), and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Raymond v Raymond is sure to paint a vivid portrait of growth, triumph, defeat and happiness.
"Judging from the title, this should be a similar affair to Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear, an album which soundtracks the messy end to a high-profile marriage, with Usher lobbing bitter-bombs at his ex, Tameka Foster.
But Usher is also every inch the modern businessman, and his business largely concerns singing about making love with girls, which he does here, a lot: divorce or no divorce.
In fact, Foolin' Around, Guilty and Papers are the only songs to directly address the situation, and even then they're done with a story-teller's eye. The former is an impassioned apology from an unfaithful (and famous) husband to his long-suffering wife, the latter a slightly different tale in which the husband has tried as hard as he can, but admits the marriage is doomed. Guilty is a song to the judge at the divorce hearing. It probably wouldn't work as legal defence.
We're on far more familiar slow jam territory with There Goes My Baby, a sumptuous deep-pile carpet of seductive song, and Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home), which impressively manages to rhyme "flexing" with "sexing". Mars vs Venus even embarks on an extended metaphor in which Usher's bedroom is its own solar system, complete with a perfect seaside postcard reference to the Big Bang.
Lil' Freak goes a smidge darker, Ush leering at a hot girl in a club about the sheer magnitude of his pulling power, over a sped-up Stevie Wonder sample (Livin' for the City, since you ask). It's pitched somewhere between thrillingly seedy and downright creepy, depending on your stomach for singers boasting about having a "ménage-ay" with a gaggle of girls.
So don't come to this thinking you'll get the inside scoop on a celebrity divorce, but as a soundtrack to rampancy in general, it's hard to beat." - BBC
"Borrowing its title from 70s divorce flick Kramer vs Kramer, the sixth album from the US R&B apex predator finds Usher (ne Usher Raymond IV) reflecting on his recent marital split. Usher's 2004 album, Confessions, featured another break-up - from TLC's Chilli - and went on to sell around 20m copies worldwide, making heartbreak a fruitful theme for the 31-year-old. Bitter and bewildered, "Papers" airs some of Raymond's soiled linen with the aid of twitchy production, but the main thrust here is Usher's newly single status. Mercifully, the pace is priapic, keeping Usher's default slushiness under control." - Guardian
Raymond v. Raymond is the sixth studio album by American R&B singer Usher, released March 26, 2010. Production for the album took place during 2008 to 2010 and was handled by several producers, including Jermaine Dupri, The Runners, Ester Dean, Polow da Don,RedOne, Jim Jonsin, Danja, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Bangladesh, and Tricky Stewart.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 329,000 copies in its first week. It became Usher's third consecutive number-one album in the United States and has produced four singles that achieved chart success, including Billboard hits "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)", "Lil Freak", "There Goes My Baby" and the international hit "OMG". Upon its release, Raymond v. Raymond received generally mixed reviews from most music critics. It has sold over one million copies in the United States and has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album.
Rolling Stone (p.75) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[M]ostly he's in loverman mode, delivering seduction-by-numbers like 'So Many Girls'..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.75) - "[S]leek, grown-and-sexy R&B tuned to all-the-single-ladies seduction..." -- Grade: B-
Billboard - "Drawing from a skillful fusion of R&B/hip-hop/pop, Usher addresses the trappings of fame on the uptempo 'Monstar'..."
Audio Mixers: Matt Marrin; Jaycen Joshua; Manny Marroquin; Dylan Dresdow; Jermaine Dupri; Ian Cross ; Mark "Spike" Stent; Phil Tan; Bob Horn; Tim Sonnefeld; Brian Stanley .
Recording information: Chungking Studios, New York, NY; Flyte Tyme Studios, Santa Monica, CA; Hit Factory Criteria, Miami, FL; Midnight Blue Studios, Miami, FL; No Excuses Studio, Santa Monica, CA; Silent Sound Studios, Atlanta, GA; Soapbox Studios, Atlanta, GA; Star Studio, Alpharetta, GA; Star Studios, Atlanta, GA; Studio At The Palms, Las Vegas, NV; Tree Sound Studios, Atlanta, GA; Tree Sound Studios, Norcross, GA.
Photographer: Anthony Mandler.
The making of Usher's sixth studio album was inevitably affected by the end of his marriage and its aftershocks. "Papers," the early buzz single for Raymond V Raymond, bears the closest relation to the turbulence he experienced. He pours himself into that song more than any other on the set, and breakup lyrics don't get much more specific than "You don't think I know what's up, but sweetheart that's what ruined us" or "I done damn near lost my mama." The song was awarded the top spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Many of the songs on the album have to be taken on their own, stripped of context; otherwise, determining what applies to Usher's real and fantasy lives can be problematic. The album's catchiest uptempo song, "Lil Freak," featuring Nicki Minaj, effectively swipes the synthesizer line from "Living for the City" -- a classic containing Stevie Wonder's most angered social commentary -- for the sake of Usher's lesbian tryst. Otherwise, the slow jams and the few moments when Usher sounds as if he's having actual fun win out. Two of the best happen to be collaborations with Jam and Lewis and the Avila Brothers. "Mars vs Venus," a very slow jam, soars, while "Pro Lover" is a breezy, casual number filled with sweet dub accents. ~ Andy Kellman
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