Usher Grows Up on His Latest Album


Here I Stand

(LaFace/Sony BMG)

You really can’t fault entertainers claiming “player for life” status. At least they’re being honest; everyone from Rod Stewart to Karrine “Superhead” Steffans knows that the promiscuous can’t be reformed and that once you get the taste of the easy-lovin’, high society lifestyle, it’s almost impossible to let go. That’s what made Usher’s last album Confessions so interesting. He was essentially admitting to being the cheater and scumbag former lover Steffans and others had accused him of being. But his follow-up Here I Stand finds him a married father, and he admits to little more than cyber-cruising. “I'm chatting, this ain't cheating, just telling myself a lie,” he sings on “Appetite.” Rest assured, though, he will “bend them a bit, but never break the rules.” Suuuuuure. Elsewhere on the CD he mostly leaves the debauchery to will.i.am -- whose stale, crass, “What’s Your Name” will hopefully mark the end of his era – and Jeezy and Weezy, whose verses on the two versions of “Love In This Club” somehow don’t ruin a truly monster of a track. Given his questionable marriage, Here I Stand is probably honest for the moment but it also whets your appetite for Confessions II. --Ben Westhoff

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