Review - Usher - Looking 4 Myself
For someone who has made a career of bringing songs to the top of the charts, ‘Looking 4 Myself’ is a risk. A risk that pays off in dividends.
Usher’s seventh studio album may not be the singles behemoth his past efforts have been, but it that might be alright. Usher has racked up twenty five top twenty hits in his career, eighteen of which were top tens (and nine of which were number one). If anyone deserves a chance to step back and make something that doesn’t worry too much about charts but rather about music, it’s him.
‘Looking 4 Myself’ is easily Usher’s most artistically creative and ambitious album yet. The album blends soul, R&B, hip hop, pop, house and dance to create a sound that is all over the map, entirely Usher, and wonderful. The album is on all fronts incredibly ahead of its time. The R&B beats are unheard of; the dance music is in the vein of what is currently being invented right now.
His slow side takes up about half the album, but don’t expect the typical “U Got It Bad”-style song. Instead, Usher (and his army of super producers from every genre and corner of the world) does everything in his power to take the genre to new places. Some songs sound like recycled and reused bits from 80’s R&B, others have an alternative pop vibe. Still others are something completely new, and this is where the CD hits its peak and is thrilling.
Usher proves that his voice is suited for all types of music by rocking everything from a slow jam to a dancefloor anthem on ‘Looking 4 Myself’. He can still hit every note and he puts more soul into every song than many artists can muster for one. I also want to applaud his use of guest vocalists this time around. While there were quite a few, the album still felt like it was his; he didn’t lose sight of his vision in a sea of famous names. On top of that, he also took another chance by offering guest slots to some lesser known artists. Sure, the album sees him performing with the likes of Pharell, Rick Ross and Will.I.Am, but we also are introduced to Luke Steele (of Empire of the Sun), Noah Shebib, Keith Harris, Alessandro Lindblad, and Surahn Sid. I don’t know who any of those last three are, but maybe I’ll go look them up.
‘Looking 4 Myself’ is an amazing album. That basically sums it up. Usher has not only found a way to make some tired genres new again, but he has done what so many have tried and failed at – mixing genres on an album. Who else but Usher could have an R&B sexy slow jam immediately followed by a house anthem and do them both exceedingly well? ‘Looking 4 Myself’ at no point feels rushed, jumbled or without a sense of direction and purpose.
Listen to: the entire album, minus perhaps “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (ft. Will.I.Am & Keith Harris), “2nd Round” and “Hot Thing (ft. A$AP Rocky)”. I’m suggesting you possibly skip three out of eighteen tracks? That’s a good sign.
If you want some highlights, try “Show Me”, “Twisted (ft. Pharell)”, “Looking 4 Myself (ft. Luke Steele)” and “Numb (ft. Axel Hedfors, Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, Alessandro Lindblad, and Klas Ahlund)”