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'..."
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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