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R&B - Released May 23, 2008 | LaFace Records

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After the release of 2004's Confessions, an album that transformed Usher from an R&B star into a pop superstar, the singer became a husband and father. That grants Here I Stand more lyrical depth than the four previous Usher albums, but we're not talking fathoms. There's a two-minute lullaby for his son, and the noticeably increased talk of settling down and turning in his player card ("My search ends here," "This time love won't let me leave") now holds more weight since he has actually done it through the eyes of the law; he certainly never would have thought to use "Your mama and my mama want some grandbabies tonight" at any earlier point in his life. More seriously, and less noxiously, the changes in his life are most evident throughout "Before I Met You," a song that is more direct, sincere, and ultimately believable than "Confessions, Pt. 2.": "You got my life together and I thank you forever." Otherwise, Here I Stand is almost exactly the kind of release you'd expect a 29-year-old Usher to deliver in 2008, and while it is seriously doubtful the album will move more copies than the nearly diamond platinum Confessions, there is plenty to like about it. Beyond some tepid material that can only be expected with a 74-minute album, its biggest weakness is in what it does not contain, like the leaked "Play Me" and the briefly charting "Dat Girl Right There," both of which would have been major highlights. Perhaps these songs would have tipped the scale too far in favor of Usher's wild bachelor past, covered effectively enough through "Love in This Club" (present in its bleary original and sugary sequel forms), the thoroughly synth-lasered "What's Your Name" (the closest in make-up to "Yeah!," if not nearly as revelrous), and the dramatic whirlwind "Appetite" (a Danja-produced Clutch collaboration, the best narrative R. Kelly did not write). Out of the small handful of brow-raising moments, "Trading Places" takes the cake. Put together with Tricky Stewart and the-Dream, it's nearly surreal, with Usher putting equal fervor into several visions of role reversals, whether they are romantic ("You get on top/Tonight I'm on the bottom") or menial ("Wash the car/I'm gonna walk the dog"). Questionable omissions and a little oddness aside, the album leaves no doubt that the R&B male crown (30 and under division) should not change hands. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released September 16, 1997 | Arista - LaFace Records

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R&B - Released October 12, 2018 | Brand Usher - RCA Records

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R&B - Released August 7, 2001 | Arista

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R&B - Released November 21, 2014 | RCA Records Label

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R&B - Released August 31, 2004 | LaFace Records

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R&B - Released March 23, 2004 | LaFace Records

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R&B - Released July 8, 2014 | RCA Records Label

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R&B - Released November 22, 2010 | LaFace Records

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R&B - Released June 12, 2012 | RCA Records Label

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Usher was pushing his "revolutionary pop" concept as early as 2010, when he told StyleList, "I love that people are talking about the new hair, it represents who I am now and the creative movement of revolutionary pop." Prior to the release of his seventh studio album, he was doing it more than ever, quite likely encouraged by a Top Five Hot 100 collaboration with mainstream dance kingpin David Guetta ("Without You"). With rare exception, revolutionary pop as presented on Looking 4 Myself sounds just like contemporary pop-oriented R&B, or European dance-pop, or some combination of the two. Compared to Usher's previous album, this is weighted more heavily toward dance-pop, much of which is functional and well made but unremarkable. The set is front-loaded with two such numbers. "Can't Stop Won't Stop," a typically savvy production from will.i.am and partner Keith Harris, incorporates flashes of commercial dubstep and a synthesized version of that escalating wordless melody from Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl." The Max Martin/Shellback-produced "Scream," a Top 20 hit by the time the album was released, is a pummeling dancefloor track with a mindless seduction theme. Next is the stellar Diplo collaboration "Climax," a bittersweet, 100% modern ballad that creates tension with space. It's more moving than what precedes and follows, but there are other highlights and a couple pleasantly surprising twists. "Lemme See," featuring Rick Ross, is a slithering, low-slung jam -- one of Usher's best. The easygoing yet emotive title track, a cross between new wave and soft rock with an appearance from Luke Steele (the Sleepy Jackson, Empire of the Sun), could pass for a cover of a missing track from the back half of the first N.E.R.D. album. Ironically, that's the singer's boldest move. While Usher's talent as a vocalist adds some depth to the producer-driven field of dance music, he's more of a creative force when he's working with slower, soul-rooted material. There's no shame in riding the wave, especially when you can do it better than anyone else. Calling it revolutionary is disingenuous. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released September 20, 2010 | Sony Music Entertainment

With Usher's recent output veering further into dance-pop territory, this 11-track compilation from the Essential Mixes series handily revisits his previous forays into the club scene with floor-filling interpretations of nine of his hit singles, all of which originally appeared as B-sides. Those mourning the departure of his early sensual soul sound will be pleased to hear that two of the three '90s tracks stick closely to the source material, with Jermaine Dupri's remix of "My Way" indistinguishable from the original and Timbaland's retooling of chart-topper "You Make Me Wanna" retaining its slick urban melancholy, while also adding his trademark vocal tics, stabbed piano chords, and staccato rhythms. Only the acoustic ballad "Nice and Slow" is given a more radical makeover, thanks to the fusion of crunk beats, lolloping synth-bass lines, and old-skool electro vibes of B-Rock's Basement Mix. Indeed, the reworkings of his slow jams provide the more authentic dancefloor anthems, from the summery guitar licks, video game-style production, and 2-step garage of Soulpower's Artful Dodger-esque "U Got It Bad," to the bouncy minimal dancehall of Monk & Prof's remix of "Trading Places," to the dirty bass-led electroclash treatment afforded to "Moving Mountains" on the Pokerface Remix, which despite its title doesn't bear any relation to Lady Gaga. Less successful are the Pound Boys Boogie Vocal Mix of "U Don't Have to Call," which eschews the sparse Neptunes funk of the original in favor of formulaic filtered house; the trashy Euro-disco of the Bimbo Jones' radio edit of "Caught Up"; and the generic urban-electro of the Full Phatt Main Mix of "Burn." Like most other collections in the Sony series, this overview of the smooth R&B seducer's HI-NRG remixes is a mixed bag, but there's plenty here that would quite happily grace the sets of many a DJ. ~ Jon O'Brien
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R&B - Released September 29, 2014 | Arista - LaFace Records

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R&B - Released May 6, 2014 | RCA Records Label

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R&B - Released September 27, 2010 | LaFace Records

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R&B - Released March 30, 2010 | LaFace Records

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R&B - Released September 16, 2016 | RCA Records Label

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R&B - Released August 30, 1994 | Arista - LaFace Records

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R&B - Released July 3, 2014 | RCA Records Label

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R&B - Released August 24, 2010 | LaFace Records

Five months after the release of Raymond V Raymond -- shortly after the album went platinum -- a deluxe edition containing a second disc was released. Containing eight songs and dubbed Versus, the second disc was also spun off as a separate release, sparing devout Usher fans from the irritation of buying Raymond V Raymond a second time. (Perhaps LaFace learned a lesson when they pulled that stunt with the deluxe edition of Confessions). With the peculiar addition of Raymond V Raymond's “There Goes My Baby,” the number one R&B song at the time of release, the stand-alone Versus technically contains nine songs. It mostly resembles a batch of leftovers from his weakest album, even though it functioned as a momentum maintainer. Two other songs, the Euro-pop club track “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” and the sleazed-up “Hot Tottie” (featuring a Jay-Z guest verse), were on the R&B chart before the disc was issued. For the most part, Versus falls in line with its parent release’s mix of detached hedonism and pleading heartache. Just the same, no matter its success, it’s laced with innocuous Euro-pop, merely passable contemporary R&B productions, and Pretty Ricky-level couplets like “I’m tryin’ to get you home and get your clothes off/Skeet-skeet a couple off and then you doze off.” ~ Andy Kellman

R&B - Released November 18, 2016 | Atlantic Records

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