Usher: Raymond v. Raymond
For those bored by the monogamy talk on his last album, 2008’s Here I Stand, Usher lets it be known that his pants have reopened for business on his latest, Raymond v. Raymond. There are menage a trois, girl-on-girl action, and catcalls to women around the world. (“Egyptian, do you fit that description?” he asks on “So Many Girls.”) But it’s not all fun and games, as the work also addresses — both directly and indirectly — his divorce from Tameka Foster. The CD’s title references the 1979 separation drama Kramer vs. Kramer, and the single “Papers” speaks to the damage Usher’s divorce inflicted on those around him. But the album’s unusually experimental production is more interesting than the stories, with compelling beats from will.i.am (stadium-rocker “OMG”) and Bangladesh and Sean Garrett (the South America-influenced “She Don’t Know”). It gets tiring to hear about all the trim Usher’s getting, but at least the songs are hot. 3 out of 5 stars.