Usher, "Raymond v. Raymond"

88 Billboard Rating

"There's three sides to every story. There's one side, there's the other and then there's the truth." So notes Usher as he opens the door to his sixth studio album, "Raymond v. Raymond," and promptly begins to musically answer the question on everyone's mind: Can he reclaim the fervor sparked with 2004 set "Confessions"? In a word, yes. Rather than a tell-all about the singer's divorce as the title suggests, this follow-up to Usher's 2008 hit-and-miss album "Here I Stand" is a more cohesive collection centered on the different sides that comprise the artist. Drawing from a skillful fusion of R&B/hip-hop/pop, Usher addresses the trappings of fame on the uptempo "Monstar," shifts into sexy overdrive on "Lil Freak" (featuring Nicki Minaj) and "Pro Lover," pumps up the beat on the infectious club anthem "OMG" (featuring Will.i.am) and turns introspective on the ballad "Foolin' Around." The bottom line here: Don't count Usher out just yet.

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