Album Preview: Usher – ‘Here I Stand’

Usher Here I Stand

Since its release in 2004, Confessions has been labeled Usher’s greatest album to date. Now his much-anticipated follow-up, Here I Stand (May 27), has critics and fans around the world debating if Usher will outdo himself or take a backseat to rising R&B heartthrobs like Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz, and Mario.

Within his four year absenteeism, Usher got married, had a baby, performed on Broadway, and released a fragrance, but still found time to record his fifth studio album. The R&B showman has matured in more ways than one and this effort definitely shows that growth. Rap-Up.com was on the scene for the exclusive listening session at Jive Records in Manhattan to find out what type of stand Usher’s here to make.

1. Intro

Usher takes a cue from his “Chicago” performance using a made-for-Broadway tempo by belting out lyrics in a deep alto tone usually used in the theatre.

2. “Love In This Club” featuring Young Jeezy
Produced by Polow Da Don

Clearly a familiar track that has everyone attempting to literally make love in the club. Usher’s first single grabs the listener’s attention by sending rhythms that force you to assume the position and get busy with some grind time.

3. “This Ain’t Sex”
Produced by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Jazze Pha

A dance record that demands the ladies to report to the dance floor with hips swaying, stomping it out with a mean two-step. Usher still has a love for the club scene, but his disclaimer states, “We ain’t having sex, we just making moments.”

4. “Trading Places”
Produced by L.O.S. Da Maestro

“You pay for dinner and take me to see a movie.” Usher switches the roles on this track with a male version of Destiny Child’s “Cater 2 You.” He shamelessly demands that his woman do all the things he would normally do for her. He sings, “Take out the trash! Walk the dog!” Towards the end of the track, Usher lets out a shrilling melodic scream as the strings of the guitar put the song to bed.

5. “Moving Mountains”
Produced by “Tricky” Stewart and Terius “The-Dream” Nash

The second single off the album, Usher sings in a pitch he normally wouldn’t be heard in. The beat slightly changes midway through the song while the instruments are intensified.

6. “What’s Your Name?” featuring will.i.am
Produced by will.i.am

This whimsical beat doesn’t sound like it was initially created for Usher. He speaks in a monotonous tone, repeatedly asking, “What’s your name?” while sirens and excessive winds blow in the background. This is possibly the “different” sound Usher was going for.

7. “Prayer For You” (Interlude)

Usher’s baby boy cries as his father sings to him. He jokes and says, “Do I really sound that bad?” Usher rejoices over his gift of life and prays for his son to have a wonderful life. He promises to be an excellent father. He sings, “You carry my name; I pray that you’re better than me.”

8. “Something Special”
Produced by Jermaine Dupri

Initially an acoustic joint but then the beat drops. Usher says, “This one’s for the lovers!” The perfect tune for anyone’s wedding reception. The gears of this album shift to a more monogamous, growing speed.

9. “Love You Gently”
Produced by Dre & Vidal

The sound of the piano caresses Usher’s voice as he talks about getting it on in the bedroom. He shouts out some bedroom music making greats. “How ’bout some foreplay? Got that Sade, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye too!” This song will spark a flame in all the lovers’ sex lives.

10. “Best Thing” featuring Jay-Z
Produced by Jermaine Dupri

Usher and Jermaine Dupri team up to take Usher back to his roots. It’s more of the Usher sound that we’re familiar with. Jay acknowledges Ush’s transformation saying, “Ush, is this what it come to man? Seeds become plants, boys become men.”

11. “Before I Met You”
Produced by Bryan-Michael Cox

Heavy drums play and a few strums of the guitar are heard, but the Confessions continue. Usher says he used to lie and cheat before he met his lifetime lady. “I was a hustler and a player, girl, before I met you.”

12. “His Mistakes”
Produced by Stargate

The track takes a somber approach to relationship problems. Usher talks about being compared to his girl’s ex-man. “Just because he did, you think I’m cheating?”

13. “Appetite”
Produced by Danja

Usher introduces the track with his signature “Yeaah man!” He tells a story full of deceit and lust. “Wifey at home and wedding band on my hand.” Heavy flutes play in the background while Usher spells his name like he’s done before, “U-S-H-E-R-R-A-Y-M-O-N-D.” Usher confesses he has a wandering eye, but promises to do right by his lady.

14. “What’s a Man to Do?”
Produced by Stargate

A Native American call intros the song, then the actual beat drops as Usher lets out a few cries of “Ooh” and “Oh Baby!”

15. “Lifetime”
Produced by James “JLack” Lackey

Usher slips back into the early ’90s with a smooth rhythm and blues track that questions the album’s theme of growth, but still satisfies the ear. Usher comfortably sounds like himself on this one.

16. “Love in This Club (Part II)” featuring Beyoncé and Lil Wayne
Produced by Soundz

Part two of the smash first single serves as a nice follow-up. The self-proclaimed king takes to the throne with his queen as they harmoniously speak to one another. Usher recruits the distinguished remixer Lil Wayne to lay a verse on the remix. Keri Hilson was rumored to originally be on this track before Beyoncé.

17. “Here I Stand”
Produced by Dre & Vidal

A slow jam with a heavy piano emphasis, Usher testifies that his lady is the only one for him and he thanks those that have gotten him to where he is now.

18. “Will Work For Love” (Hidden Track)
Produced by J.R. Rotem

Ushers drags out all of his words in a whining pitch (i.e. “Hellllp,” “Tiiiime,” “Awaaaay”). It’s beautiful to want to work for love, but he doesn’t quite convey such a sweet message with the moans and groans.

–Angela Barrett in New York

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12 Comments

  1. graicen

    i happen to get a copy of this album last nite im a huge usher fan n i was really disappointed with this album. songs like moving mountains which i had in January was a nice uptempo record but the final mastered edit on the album is really horrible compared to the previous. other tracks to be are fillers on the album. im quite disappointed. i was gonna go buy the album tuesday next week but i dont think i will n e more.

  2. PHAT ONE

    The guy has peaked so only 1 way to go now.
    Usher isn\’t relevent anymore.
    People have Chris Brown so that\’s that really.
    But the problem starts because everyone is using the same producers.
    The album will still sell because Usher is a brand, same thing like Eminem, his last 2 albums were wack, however they shifted units because he\’s a brand.

  3. graicen

    tru that

  4. Lew Hudson

    Yea I feel the same way. I was an Usher fan, but this album seems to be lacking in a few departments. This album seems like outtakes rehashed from confessions, with a couple of tracks that he recorded for a new album. I dont see the growth and he does seem to be losing his relevancy, which is surprising to me.

  5. C.K. Inc.

    Wow. That\’s some tough talk and I respect it all. I was never truly impressed by Love in the Club. I do have like \

  6. PHAT ONE

    Hi,

    I mean in all honesty,its tough to make a track that\\\’s gonna be a classic or even last a year without using a corny but fun gimmick i.e. Crank Dat

    Since MP\\\’s and ipods the consumer has been bombarded with every type of R&B song possible from every angle…just like Usher there\\\’s only 1 way for R&B music to go as its peaked.

    Even artists like R.Kelly try to be creative i.e Trapped in Closet but again, consumers don\\\’t get time to digest that creativity, because we are spoilt (Real funny to think of spoilt B1ack k1ds huh???? LOL)

    I think the way forward for R&B is mixing it with dance music…do I like it NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yes i\\\’m gonna be ch1dish and say its g@y!

    However, it actually sounds ok in the clubs and has been a running success in showing how diverse Rhianna is as an artist, now Chris Brown has jumped on the bandwagon with Forever and so has Ne Yo with closer…only time will tell if this is the New Era of R&B.

  7. Skuttle

    It shouldn’t be surprising considering Usher isn’t solely a “music star”
    anymore. Fans need to take in consideration the fact that during Usher’s hiatus,
    some self-fulfilling endeavors set in for him: started a family; created a
    fragrance; for some time now he’s been a part owner of the cleveland cavs NBA
    team, and he’s also involved in a restaurant chain, “The Grape”. Usher may not
    have grown musically, but as a businessman (which he has transformed into) he
    has.

    Take Jay-Z for example: soon as Jay became more involved in the business side
    of the industry and pursuing his own endeavors (let’s go down the line: wifing
    Beyoncé, selling RocaWear, part owner of NJ Nets NBA team, elected president of
    Def Jam, presently finalized a deal with promotion company, LiveNation, to
    handle all his music and business ventures, now he’s starting his own label!)
    his music quality waned (not to mention he made a lot of enemies!) and he
    disappointed many fans with some of his latest works, i.e. “Kingdom Come”, even
    American Gangster was “iffy”. The fact is that, these men are no longer the
    hit-after-hit sensations they once were. I’ll admit this about Usher’s new
    album, from what I’ve heard, its not him. Just the sound and energy isn’t the
    same. I don’t know, maybe my ears have been reprogrammed to digest stuff like
    Chris Brown and j holiday after all these years, but for some reason, Usher
    (now) is hard to stomach!

    I know, it sucks that it has come to this because both Jay and Usher are great
    artists who, in lieu of a weak album-selling industry, have demonstrated
    consistency with their music; however at the end of the day, for both these
    men…its all business. Music isn’t what it used to be (meaning it no longer
    pays the bills!). Luckily for me, and my fellow 80s babies, we’ve seen the best
    of both these men and can always go into nostalgic thinking to bring up the
    best, and last days, of Usher and Jay. :)

  8. PHAT ONE

    Hi,

    Well written Skuttle.

    I totally agree with you.

    I never liked Jay’s last 3 albums to be honest, although they seemed to get decent reviews, I hated them!

    So what recent albums do you play at home? Or do you just play whatever single is hot for the week and wait for a new one to replace it as music is easily disgestable like fast food these days?

  9. Mike

    The Best Song On The Album Is (Here I Stand) written By (Rell) The Former Rocafella R&B Singer (Here I Stand) Is The Title Track And Its Souful, Makes U feel Good, Makes U wanna Get Married, Makes U wanna Fall in Love. Everybody Talking Bad About (Usher) But The Man Is In Love, He Speaks On His Real Life And Some People Relates to that!! I think The Album Is A Hit, And If You Are A True Usher Fan, Grown And Sexy, And Know What Love Is Then You Will Understand. By the Way (Rell) Need to Be Dropping An Album That is a very nice Song (Here I Stand) Made Tears Come From My Eyes

  10. John Seals

    I agree Mike that album is A umber 1 album, N That Song Here I Stand is the song I want somebody 2 sing at my wedding maybe Rell can sing it for me, Rell im waiting on U 2 drop that album, I know its gonna B hot I heard some of your work U done Latly it hot that track with Cassidy Dam I Miss Da Game, I also heard U on A track with 1 of da hottest new up N coming rap artist from South Carolina Infamous Dru, the song was called Just Fly, I Love It thats a hit, yall need 2 put that out, that song is going crazy on myspace everybody love it the myspace page is (myspace.com/infamousdru) Mike check it out!!!

  11. Mimi

    I BROUGHT THE ABULM FROM THE STORE AND SOUNDS BETTER THAN WHAT I HEARD ON THE NET!!!THE SONGS ARE THE SAME , BUT THE BEATS ARE SOOOOOO MUCH BETTER. HE IS IN ADIFFERENT PLACE IN LIFE THAN CONFESSIONS, BUT I RESPECT THAT AND WISH HIM WELL

  12. Arkansasan

    I have the album but I\’m not really feelin it because he is basically talking directly to his wife. He should have just made it and gave it to her. It doesn\’t do anything for me. I sings to her as if he is sprung-gosh!!!!!