Thursday, April 08, 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Usher's "Raymond vs. Raymond"

I've been a steady listener of the R&B singer ever since his racy 1997 video for "You Make Me Wanna…" He's always been able to teeter between playing the seducer and the romantic, entrancing the ladies for the last ten years. But ever since we got a peek into his tumultuous love life, he's become less of a romantic and more of your A-typical player. And now, in Raymond vs. Raymond, he's proclaiming it boldly—telling ladies to be his "Lil Freak" and explaining in "Pro Lover," "I'm trying to add your name/to my Hall of Fame/Not just a player/I'm a pro."

Since I'm not a fan of the baby-making, infidelity-encouraging genre, I'm going to ignore Usher's sexual advances (lol) and focus on his guest list of featured artists. I love collaborations, but only if they actually add something to the album. I don't appreciate the half-assed, easy-check lyrics. Time to put them to the test:

Ludacris "She Don't Know" [1:35-2:17]
"can you smell what i'm cookin / like the Rock say"
-5 for an outdated reference
"smells like a feast / and you looking like the entree"
+5 for using an SAT word
"these other women just h'ordeuvres / i picked you / and that's what's getting on these whore's nerves"
-5 for inaccurately referring to loose women as whores; they're only whores if they get paid.
"give me/give me love/like Serena when the court serves"
+2 for just referring to Serena Williams period
"girl so cold/i need a flu shot"
+5 for being topical and clever
"i told her/keep her head up/Tupac"
+5 because there are always automatic points for referring to legendary rappers
Score: +7

Nicki Minaj "Lil Freak" (uncensored) [1:59-2:40]
"I really like your kitty cat / and if you let me touch her / i'll know you're not a bluffer / I'll take you to go see Usher"
+5 for the PG way of saying that she needs to make sure the girl isn't a man before Usher sleeps with her
"i keep a couple hoes / like Santa / I keep a vixen / Got that dasher, dancer, prancer, vixen, comet, cupid, donner, blitzen"
-2 for bringing Santa into this and +5 for managing to keep the beat while naming all of the reindeer.
"I'm plotting on how I can take Cassie away from Diddy"
+10 for pointing out one of the most disturbing Hollywood relationships, since R. Kelly & Aaliyah, that major rags never seem to mention, while also comically taunting a veteran rapper.
"Yeah they wetter than the rain then / Usher buzz me in / everybody loves Raymond"
-5 for mentioning a series that hasn't been around for five years. Get a TiVo.
Score: +13

T.I. "Guilty" [2:17-2:47]
Before I get to the critique, I have to say that the chorus is hilarious for two reasons:
1) the fact that recently convicted rapper T.I. is featured on the song and Usher repeatedly sings "Don't take me to jail" (major LOLs) and
2) the part in the chorus when he sings "I guess I'm guilty for wanting to be up in the club / I guess I'm guilty cause girls always want to show me love." You guess? Stop guessing. You are!
As for T.I.'s lyrics:
"She got proof? / Well I got alibis too"
+5 for his overall ability to hold a conversation R. Kelly-style throughout the verse…although I should take out a million for saying that he had alibis. That word never makes a person seem innocent. It's just a legal way of saying "excuse."
"Couple million dollar worth of bags and full shoes / 7 carrot solitaire / Caribbean water blue / Range Rove Porsche / powered mirror in the Bentley coupe / All the shit I did for her / and this who you going listen to?"
+5 I don't know what half that stuff is, but this is a perfect example of what guys think justifies their actions. They give us the world, so they're allowed to sleep with any woman in the world. I assure you if you told that to her as you were proposing, she would have said no…unless she was a gold digger.
"I never been on bullshit / she aint caught me on no Tiger Woods' shit"
+5 That's never going to get old.
"Knew what I expected when she met me / Should have let me be"
+0 I would like for these three gentlemen to sit down and write five women they know who have no problems with infidelity…besides Goldie Hawn and Mo'nique. If they can't think of five, then they should stop being delusional. There aren't any women who are going to let you "be."
Score: +15 "OMG" [2:33-3:02]
I'll give him props for producing the danceable beat (although i could've done without the chanting crowd sound effect), but his lyrics were lazy. I've heard teenagers with better rhymes.
Score: 0

Side note: The video for the track has a  few impressive scenes. I mostly like the shadow dancing (minus the high-wire work), the colorful double vision, and the stage choreography, which gives you an idea of what his concert might be like.

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