Usher Raymond is that R&B artist that has ruled generations and continues to be staggeringly influential in the industry. With seven successful albums to his name, he has created music that will live long after he is gone. He is an artist that will leave a legacy that will be almost impossible to dispute. Usher is what one would comfortably call “an all-round entertainer,” and I am talking about just music. Forget that he is an actor, too. This gentleman is a singer-songwriter, dancer and recently a rapper – remember his BET Awards 2014 and VMA 2014 performances? If you do, then you’ll remember he rapped at the beginning of those performances.
UR, the title of Usher’s upcoming album, to me, is the album that will determine whether or not Usher has still got it. It is never easy stepping into the shoes of someone that has been hugely great and enormously successful. The shoes UR is stepping into are the success of Usher’s career and his previous albums.
Usher’s most recent album Looking for Myself did not perform as anticipated or as projected. It fell slightly short of what Usher has always delivered. I completely understand that he was rediscovering himself and venturing into a more diverse kind of album, but it did not leave the mark an Usher album was supposed to leave. Usher gives us music that imprints everlasting good sound. However, with Looking for Myself, much as it had some of Usher’s all-time fan favorites, did not quite raise the bar that Usher pushes higher with each album.
The pressure now falls on UR to redeem Usher and remind all of these R&B artists who the true king is. This new album comes at a time where the industry is receiving new blistering R&B artists who are not sleeping till they make their mark in the industry. Take a very good example of August Alsina. For over the last year, August Alsina has ruled the air waves, and many people do not shy away from calling him the “next big thing.” Alsina can sing, and when he is in the booth, it is good music that you expect to come out of there. His music may not outlive Usher’s music, but Usher dropping an album at a time where such new talent is the fans’ favorite, gives Usher competition that is heavy to beat.
Usher’s new album also comes at a time when many artists are struggling to make comebacks, and the legends are not doing so well. The legends that have managed to still bring it have raised the bar even higher like Justin Timberlake. The 20/20 Experience albums, parts 1 and 2 were highly successful, and they re-launched Justin Timberlake as an artist that can survive no matter the weather in the industry.
The pied piper of R&B, R. Kelly, hasn’t had much luck with his comeback. His most recent album, Black Panties, did not live up to the reputation R. Kelly albums have. Black Panties was a good album, but the tracks on it weren’t well-moderated. The sound did not catch on well with the current music generation. The few singles that managed to earn recognition did not fetch enough. Omarion suffered the same fate as R. Kelly as the numbers the album did were short of what he is capable of. The list is endless, but I’ll use those few as examples. It is Ne-Yo that has kept his pace steadily escalating, and his new album, Non-Fiction, is doing very well.
Usher must have an album that is prepared for all of the above. UR must contain the current situation in the industry. The industry is moving fast, and artists that do not live up to the fans’ expectations are quickly forgotten. Some of the people working on UR have promised us an album that is the real Usher sound, and some have compared it to his 2004 Confessions album. If UR can live up to Confessions’ magnificent sound, then I can say Usher will still be the man to beat.
The singles we have heard from the album so far like “Good Kisser,” “She Came to Give It to You” featuring Nicki Minaj, “I Don’t Mind” with Juicy J and “Still Got it” featuring Migos, are very good singles. However, only “Good Kisser,” to me, feels like the ultimate Usher sound. “Good Kisser” gave us the most singular sound we have heard in a very long time. Its sound is incomparable, and God help Usher have more of such music on his UR album.
UR faces Trey Songz and Chris Brown’s recent albums that have been successful and memorable. Do not forget that Trey Songz and Chris Brown are Usher’s biggest and most threatening competition. Trey Songz’s Trigga did exceptionally well, and the songs off it were great. With Trigga, I believe Trey was at his best, and the album speaks for itself. Chris Brown’s X is that album that has had so many good songs, it is impossible to pick a favorite. Usher is up against all that.
UR has to be big. It just has to. A lot is at stake if it is not big. Usher has a lot to prove with this album. The pressure to succeed and remain relevant has never been bigger; the stakes have never been higher, and Usher has never needed this win so bad. I know he will surely deliver. UR will be a landmark. Usher has not lost the massive following he has globally. Usher, even at his worst, has never failed to impress. This album has to be Usher at his best.
We need to be taken out of this world and enjoy new sound from a great artist that has been making us sing and dance since I was 4 years old. We need to have music for all moments on this album. UR should have music for the bedroom, club, ladies, lovers, and fellows. UR has to have music for everyone. Usher has done it before; the same man that has done it before is about to do it again. UR has to make artists on the boards and charts tremble with fear, knowing that Usher is coming for you. And that is why Usher’s next album has to be big.
FDRMX Eyes: Ruckazoid is a hip hop artist and producer from the Bay area. Check out his music video entitled “Don’t Let Me Go (She Ain’t Mad At It),” which has got a lot of soul and R&B.