Usher | Looking 4 Myself (RCA)

usher-looking-4-myself-deluxeDo yourself a favor and get the deluxe version.

 

When I first heard “Climax,” I thought it was such an enticing, sexy tune that seduces its listener into the story of a relationship stuck in limbo, but coming to an end because neither party will commit. This was a completely new Usher singing in a soul-pouring falsetto with gut-wrenching howls:

“You say it’s better if we love each separately I just need you one more time I can’t get what we had out my mind./ Where are you now? When I need you around. I’m on my knees but it seems we’re going nowhere fast we’ve reached our climax/ We’re together now we’re undone won’t commit so we choose to run away do we separate? Oh, don’t want to give in so we both gave up can’t take it back it’s too late we reached the climax.”

On “I Care For U,” Usher confesses that he does, in fact, care for his girl even though his actions don’t match his words, and it’s just difficult for her to feel it because he “doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, well what you get is what you see but truth is girl underneath, you got to believe” that he cares for you. It’s an edgy, almost convincing tune.

Looking 4 Myself is such a grown and sexy album, but of course Mr. Raymond does not leave out some great club bangers like “Hot Thing,” which makes any lady channel her inner Beyonce and dance her heart out to the beat, two steps and body rolls included. “I.F.U,” “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” and “Scream” will certainly be beating through speakers loud and proud as the soundtrack to get the party jumping. They’re well sprinkled throughout the album in between the songs of love, sex, and self discovery.

“Lesson for the Lover” is a raw, pulsating ballad that explores the lessons we learn when we’re in love: Not every bad thing is the end of the relationship; in fact, those disagreements can spark sexy connections between each person. “Dive” has to be one of my favorite slow jams on the album, as it explores the apprehension you have before getting into a relationship: even though you know you want to dive right in, as with anything, patience and time are key. In the same breath of relationship comes “Sins of My Father,” which Usher parallels the relationship he didn’t have with his father and how it affects how he interacts with women. I can appreciate his honesty and openness on the subject of his absentee father, which is not overdone in music, especially from a male’s perspective. We all know how relationships with your parents trickle into your relationships with others.

“When you give it all you get it all. Love would be the only reason to look back, and once you turn it on you can’t turn it off,” Usher sings in “What Happened to U.” The song outlines the story of the pursuit of career over love, where he wonders if there’s a way he and she can reestablish the relationship they built before they decided to chase their dreams now that they have accomplished it all. “What sense does it make to have everything and nothing at the same time/ Where are you?/ I need you, yeah/ I’m looking for you/ Girl come and share all this money, clothes, fancy cars, big ol’ cribs, platinum on the wall, seven Grammys, sold out concerts – damn I’ve been working hard/ Private jets to France, many women I done a ball. You can say I made it, but I’m faded/ I miss you, can we go back? (one too many, two at a time) But the issue is time we can’t get back, no (Time we can’t back now) What happened to you, yeah. (Would you) Come back ‘cause I miss you can we go back?/ What happened to you? You../ I’m happy for you wherever you are/ Things change in time you’re still the same old you. I miss you.”

The title track, “Looking 4 U,” perfectly culminates all of Usher’s experiences and albums from Confessions to Here I Stand and Raymond V Raymond, which really allows the listeners a pure piece of his heart and its intentions. While the melody of this track will have you feeling good, swaying your head from side to side to the beat, if you hone in on the lyrics, you will find them to be personal, powerful, and full of meaning. “I was on a journey trying to figure out who I really was,” Usher spoke, “Then I realized that when you’re not here half of me is gone. So in order for me to find me I had to find you, you know? And I got a funny feeling that you won’t know who you are unless you find me. It’s like you look in the mirror and you see the person that you truly love.”

I agree, Mr. Raymond. In looking for yourself you have unveiled the good, the bad, the ugly, the fall, and the rise like a Phoenix from the ashes into the sky: a little bruised, a lot stronger, fulfilled, and, most importantly, with a defined sense of self that no one can take from you. Mission accomplished. c, too. A| Ashley White

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