Looking 4 Myself is the seventh album from R&B veteran Usher Raymond.
Usher dropped his latest album Looking 4 Myself today- and by the end of the seventeenth track – I still don’t think he knows who he is.
I had really high hopes for this album, I heard the brilliant production of “Climax” I heard “Lemme See” and I was convinced that this collection of songs was going to careen me back into 90s crooner Usher, 8701 and Confessions bliss. Unfortunately – I was sadly misled.
8701 (2001) and Confessions (2004) were filled with strong hit tracks which flowed into one another all in the R&B genre (and occasionally featuring rap and crunk) they were solid albums and the success of this formula was proven in the sales figures.
- Confessions was certified diamond and according to Billboard, is the second best-selling album of the 2000s;
- 8701 went 4 times certified platinum.
I believe that the downfall of this album is that Usher’s trying too hard to be everything to everyone – and in doing so, the momentum of the album never builds and as a whole body of work – isn’t cohesive. You get a smooth, falsetto R&B track such as “What Happened To U” which is signature Usher and exemplifies the reason why he is a veteran of the music industry – then you get jarred by an indie track that’s less than impressive in “Looking 4 Myself.”
It really pains me to give a less than glowing review about Usher’s music – as I am a huge fan of his, I have every album he ever made and have been to every tour he has had in Australia.
Ever since he started to do dance collaborations and started hanging out with Justin Bieber his music started to change for the worse in my opinion. I never understood why he felt he needed his music to cross into the bubblegum tween pop and Euro dance scene. To me, he was selling out. I don’t understand what is so wrong with maintaining his title as King of R&B. Sure, we have Trey Songz and Chris Brown to appease Gen Z – but they don’t have a thing on veteran Raymond.
R&B is still alive and relevant today and call me a purist – but I don’t think it’s a genre that needs to be hybridised or compete with the likes of dance and pop. It really saddens me that Usher a musical R&B genius feels that he needs to pull from these genres to find himself and be relevant.
Usher, stop looking for yourself your fans and the music industry know where you belong baby, and it’s R&B.
Stand out tracks:
- “Lemme See”
- “What Happened 2 U”
- “Sins Of My Father”
- “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”
Read my track-by-track review for the skinny on Looking 4 Myself:
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – Why is this an opening track? Someone please explain this to me. “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” is a Will.I.Am produced joint that is far from ‘fiyah’ Usher baby. The track showcases heavily laid on synth and dubstep which features a sample of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” Ah, next? Totes skippable.
Scream – A disappointing club banger that could only appease dance-heads. Usher’s choice to release this as a single post “Climax” is beyond me. Just when we thought we were going to get old Usher back – “Scream” presents itself in it’s odd dance form. As PopDust suggests – “Scream” is comparable to the highly criticised “Starships” of Nicki Minaj. Definitely a weaker joint.
Climax – I’m not gonna lie – I wanted Looking 4 Myself to sound entirely like this track. This takes me back to the Confessions era that I loved so much. The falsetto, the raw R&B and excellent Diplo production on this track had my jaw dropped – praising his return. “Climax” a headline track.
I Care 4 U – A dubstep heavy joint – dubstep is so hot right now, he couldn’t leave it outta this production Mr I Wanna Be The King Of Genre Blending. WHY Usher? WHYYY??? It’s not a bad song – if you strip back the dubstep you get Usher of yesteryear.
Show Me – An uptempo, cheery track about having a good time – a nice addition and mood switch up to Looking 4 Myself. Light hearted and fun will have you singing ‘wee-hoo’ in no time.
Lemme See (feat. Rick Ross) – You KNOW I love me some Rozay. I have previously reviewed this track when it came out as a single. A smart collaboration. “Lemme See” definitely showcases the new era of the Usher sound. Cue round of applause.
Twisted (feat. Pharrell) – A personal favourite and a sure shot single. At first I was reminded of Lloyd’s “Dedication To My Ex (Miss That)” – a song I loathe. This Neptunes produced track raised my spirit and had me shaking my tail feather and shoulder shimmying to the old skool sound mixed with a sick bass back beat. This union – Pharrell and Usher was a very clever one, this joint is straight fiyah. *hits repeat*
Dive – A very raunchy track strictly for the grown and sexy. Love it! The falsetto lyrics make me blush but hey it’s Usher - lay it on me you are the Gen Y king of R&B. *side eyes Brian McKnight & his latest tragic musical attempt in “If You’re Ready To Learn” * You can get it baby, Mr McKnight take a seat, eww!
What Happened To U – Now this song from the first bar had me hooked. THIS is the Usher sound I love. His vocal ability is showcased without auto-tuning and isn’t overshadowed by a distracting beat. It’s a clever play on his name with the lyric – what happened to U as in the letter ‘u’ for Usher. One of the best cuts on Looking 4 Myself.
Looking 4 Myself (feat. Luke Steele) – For my non-Australian readers Luke Steele is from the Aussie indie band Empire Of The Sun. The melody in the chorus is giving me British rock band’s Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing.” As much as I WANT to like this song given it’s Aussie injection – I just can’t. Empire Of The Sun are really a unique sounding group, Usher’s voice gets somewhat lost in translation here and this collabo is far from a marriage – someone pass the divorce papers.
Numb (feat. Swedish House Mafia & Alesso) – A dance song that I instantly cringe at. Yes – I have a problem with Usher doing dance tracks I always will. I don’t see the problem with him staying in his R&B lane – he is king at that, untouchable. Wandering into this genre with tracks such as “Numb” honestly annoys the hell outta me – why? Does he do it just to prove he can sell records in other genres?
Lessons For The Lover – Another sexy “Motivation”-esque inspired song – a baby-making track, an Usher signature. Vocals are on point and the track is unmistakeably dripping with sex.
Sins Of My Father – This voodoo themed song reminds me of Rihanna – the ‘oh now’s’ and backing sounds quite bluesy/soul yet islander at the same time. It sounds like it could have been from a previous era – very much like a song blues legend Howlin’ Wolf would have sung as PopDust suggests. “Sins Of My Father” depicts a woman who traps him and gets pregnant by him. Can anyone say, “Confessions?” This is a stand out track and one of my favourites. You throw voodoo in any track and I’m gonna love it, just saying…
Euphoria – Another luke warm dance cut that I can’t stand. Just stop trying to do the dance thing Usher. Where the hell is Lil Jon these days? Oh that’s right – touring. He’s been to Australia twice like in the last year. Can’t you recreate that collabo magic again? Stop aspiring to conquer the dance charts. Leave that to the Europeans.
DELUXE ONLY TRACKS
I.F.U – Strings and drums feature heavily in this track. I gotta admit – this is a catchy and interesting sounding mid tempo track. I like it. Thumbs up Usher, yeahhhh man.
Say The Words – Another interesting sounding track, Usher reminisces about the past with this falsetto laden cut. Unfortunately, it’s far from a stand out.
2nd Round – “2nd Round” has plenty of machine and synthesised beats throughout and I’m not sure why he included this as an extra track – another one that missed the mark for me.
Hot Thing (feat. A$AP Rocky) – “Hot Thing” would probably go off in the club and is giving me a little “Hot Toddy” in it’s lyrics and sound. A$AP Rocky’s verse is fiyah. Overall the song is fairly impressive and is worthy of a deluxe track addition to Looking 4 Myself.
I expect a lot from Usher – and quite rightfully so, he has shown marked maturity and progression in most of his albums notably in the 9os and early 2000s. He has had countless hit singles and dominated the charts for weeks and months on end – with singles from albums with so many hit songs to choose from.
He is the Michael Jackson of R&B in this day and age.
Looking 4 Myself is probably one of his weakest bodies of music to date. He sounds lost and uncertain dabbling in these foreign music genres and I don’t know why on earth he thinks that this exceeds the brilliance of Confessions and all his albums to date (as he has stated).
Fancye Scale : 2.5 /5
You can follow Usher on Twitter.
What did YOU think of Looking 4 Myself? I would love to hear your thoughts.