Raymond v. Raymond

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Raymond v. Raymond
Studio album by Usher
Released March 26, 2010
Recorded 2009; Studio at the Palms
(Paradise, Nevada)
Genre R&B, pop
Length 58:59
Label LaFace, Jive
Producer Usher (exec.), Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, will.i.am, Zaytoven, Polow da Don, RedOne, Danja, The Runners, Jim Jonsin, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Bangladesh, Sean Garrett
Usher chronology
Here I Stand
(2008)
Raymond v. Raymond
(2010)
Versus
(2010)
Deluxe edition cover
Singles from Raymond v. Raymond
  1. "Papers"
    Released: October 16, 2009
  2. "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)"
    Released: December 8, 2009
  3. "Lil Freak"
    Released: March 2, 2010
  4. "OMG"
    Released: March 22, 2010
  5. "There Goes My Baby"
    Released: June 15, 2010
  6. "More"
    Released: November 22, 2010

Raymond v. Raymond is the sixth studio album by American R&B recording artist Usher, released on March 26, 2010, by LaFace Records. Production for the album took place during 2008 to 2010 and was handled by several producers, including Jermaine Dupri, The Runners, Ester Dean, Polow da Don, RedOne, Jim Jonsin, Danja, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Bangladesh, and Tricky Stewart.

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 329,000 copies in its first week. It sold over one million copies in the United States and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album also produced five singles that achieved chart success, including US hits "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)", "Lil Freak", "There Goes My Baby", and international hits "OMG" and "More".

Upon its release, Raymond v. Raymond received generally mixed reviews from music critics, who were ambivalent towards its songwriting and themes. Nonetheless, the album earned Usher several awards, including Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Usher promoted the album with a supporting international tour, OMG Tour, in 2011.

Background[edit]

In December 2005, Usher became romantically involved with stylist Tameka Foster, whom he then married on August 3, 2007.[1] Foster gave birth to Usher Raymond V later that year.[2] Usher released his fifth studio album Here I Stand on May 13, 2008. It featured more mature, adult-oriented themes, influenced by his marriage to Foster; this thematic shift ultimately led to the album becoming less successful with fans and sales than his previous work.[3][4][5][6][7][7] A year and a half later on June 12, 2009, following his marriage, Usher filed for divorce from Foster, with no initial reasoning.[8] Once the divorce was finalized on November 8 that year, Usher explained that there was "no reasonable hope of reconciliation" and their marriage was "irretrievably broken"; both Foster and Usher had been living separately since July 2008.[8] The divorce was highly documented by the press.[9]

People felt like I’d stepped away from the perception I’d sold for all the years I’d been doing this, when people buy my albums, they buy them for the connection. Here I Stand was very specific to where I was in my life. I don’t think everyone was there.

—Usher's interpretation of Here I Stand '​s low performance.[9]

Prior to the filing, Usher relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2009 to begin working on his sixth studio album.[8] The album was recorded at the Studio at the Palms in Vegas and Atlanta.[10] Producers involved with its production included Jermaine Dupri, The Runners, Ester Dean, Polow da Don, RedOne, Jim Jonsin, Danja, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Bangladesh and Tricky Stewart.[11][12] Initially under the title Monster, the album's name was changed to Raymond v. Raymond, taking inspiration from the 1979 American drama film Kramer vs. Kramer.[9][13]

Raymond v. Raymond mirrors Usher's 2004 Confessions, as a self-confessional album, with several recordings from the album inferring to Usher's marriage.[9] Jive Records urban music president and album executive producer Mark Pitts also conceived the album as a return to the themes of the latter album; "based on what happened with Confessions", Pitts wanted to reproduce its success.[9] Pitts told The New York Times that "Usher had a rough couple years", elaborating: "The scrutiny of everything going on, he was worrying too much about what people were thinking. We felt like we had to get his swagger back. Dust off the bed and get it popping and young again."[9] Pitts noted that it was important Raymond v. Raymond addressed the rumors that circulated around Usher's marriage.[9] The latter reiterated that the album is not specifically about his marriage, and that it is "about the tug-of-war between man and woman, and the honesty a man has to have."[9]

Singles[edit]

"Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)" was released as the first single on December 8, 2009. The single peaked at number 24[14] on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[15] The song also peaked at number sixty-eight on the Austrian Singles Chart.[16] Its music video was directed by Chris Robinson, and was shot in West Hollywood at "The London".[17] It premiered on MTV on January 28, 2010.[18] For the album's second single, "Lil Freak", Usher and featured artist Nicki Minaj shot a music video for the song on March 9, 2010 in Los Angeles with director TAJ.[19] The single reached number eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart[15] and number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.[14] It also peaked at number 109 on the UK Singles Chart.[20]

The album's fourth single, "OMG", featuring will.i.am, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.[14] It also reached number one in Ireland,[21] New Zealand,[22] the United Kingdom,[23] and Australia.[24] The song became his ninth number-one hit in the US, making him the first 2010s artist to collect number-one singles in three consecutive decades, and only the fourth artist of all-time to achieve the feat.[25] Usher also became the third artist ever to have at least one Hot 100 number-one hit from five consecutive studio albums.[26] The single stayed at number one on the chart for four weeks, including three consecutive.[27] It finished at the top of the year-end Billboard charts.[28][29] It was also named the fifth best-selling song of 2010, selling 3.8 million units.[30]

"There Goes My Baby", which was released as the second promotional single prior to the album's release, was released to airplay as the album's fourth single in the United States on June 15, 2010.[31] It reached number twenty-five on the Billboard Hot 100,[14] and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart,[15] becoming Usher's eleventh number-one hit on the latter.[32] The song earned Usher a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, at the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011.[33] "More" was released as the album's fifth and final single, on December 6, 2010.[34] "More" peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.[35] The single reached number one in Canada.[36] It also reached the top-ten in Australia,[37] Belgium,[38] and Norway,[39] and the top-twenty in Denmark,[40] France,[41] New Zealand,[42] and Sweden.[43]

Release and promotion[edit]

In November 2009, a representative of Usher told MTV News that the album will not be released on December 21, 2009 as scheduled: "The release of Usher's next album, Raymond v. Raymond, has been delayed because we believe that the album is so strong that we want to give it the opportunity to have the proper setup before coming out".[44] The album's release was pushed back again due to Usher experiencing issues in obtaining management, following him parting ways with his then manager, Jonetta Patton, also his mother, in late November 2009.[45] Patton had severed management ties with Usher due to his relationship with former Def Jam executive Grace Miguel, and she felt "if she didn't end things when she did, it would permanently affect their personal relationship."[45] Raymond v. Raymond was ultimately released on March 30, 2010 in the United States, and released on April 26, 2010 in the United Kingdom.[46][47]

Versus was announced as a follow-up to Raymond v. Raymond on July 8, 2010, and is Usher's first extended play.[48] Described during a press release as "the last chapter of Raymond v. Raymond", Usher stated that the EP will explore the subjects of being newly single and a father.[49] It would include Raymond v. Raymond single "There Goes My Baby", as well as 8 new tracks.[49] Several producers from the latter album contributed to the production of the EP, including Polow da Don, Jim Jonsin, Rico Love, Drumma Boy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Tha Cornaboyz and Max Martin.[49] Versus' track listing and album cover was revealed on July 21, 2010.[50] Despite some criticism towards its pop-oriented material, the EP received generally positive reviews from most music critics.[51] It went on to sell 302,000 copies in the US.[52]

Usher performing during his OMG Tour in Houston, Texas

Tour[edit]

Main article: OMG Tour

In the summer of 2010, Usher competed in a dance battle against fellow R&B artist Chris Brown at the Reggae Sumfest. The battle sparked an Internet rumor of the two possibly going on tour. This was further pushed by producer Jermaine Dupri alluding that the two artist may be unaware of this upcoming tour. The singers later took to Twitter to ask who the fans would like to see them perform with.[53] On September 8, 2010, the singer announced his touring trek (and revealed it was solo) for North America. Due to demand, many additional stops in Europe and Australasia were added. It is Usher's first arena tour since his 2004 effort, The Truth Tour.[54] The then announced OMG Tour commenced on November 10, 2010 and concluded on June 1, 2011 with Usher performing in a total of 92 shows. In its conclusion, the tour placed seventh on Billboard's annual "Top 25 Tours", earning nearly $75 million.[55]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[56]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[57]
Entertainment Weekly B–[58]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[59]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[4]
NME 6/10[60]
PopMatters 4/10[5]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[61]
Slant Magazine 1.5/5 stars[62]
Sputnikmusic 2.5/5[63]

Raymond v. Raymond received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 57, based on 16 reviews, which indicates "generally mixed or average reviews".[64] AllMusic editor Andy Kellman was ambivalent towards its lyrical content and stated, "Many of the songs on the album have to be taken on their own, stripped of context; otherwise, determining what applies to Usher's real and fantasy lives can be problematic".[56] Tyler Fisher of Sputnikmusic found the album thematically inconsistent and called it "a predictably unfocused album".[63] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine called it "consistently uninspired, with each song showcasing an incredibly gifted performer grown wearyingly complacent".[62]

Camilla Pia of NME observed "quite a bit of forgettable bravado babble".[60] Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot viewed that its "songs about 'So Many Girls' and the burden of being a 'Pro Lover' on the prowl" inversely affect the mature-themed songs, writing "It’s the kind of lacerating perspective that adulthood brings, but Usher’s too busy chasing his past to fully embrace it".[57] Tyler Lewis of PopMatters called Raymond v. Raymond a "cynically commercial and desperate album" and viewed it as a "pale imitation" of Usher's Confessions.[5] The Village Voice '​s Rich Juzwiak called its confessional nature "wan" and compared its songs negatively to "pick-up lines: Their immediate success varies, but none are particularly memorable".[7]

In a positive review, Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times felt that the album emphasizes "the wily lothario of yore" in response to "Usher fans disappointed by the change in direction his wedding inspired".[4] Andrew Rennie of Now wrote, "his sixth album proves that his ability to make grown-up hits is stronger than ever."[65] Billboard '​s Gail Mitchell called it "a more cohesive collection" than Here I Stand, "centered on the different sides that comprise the artist".[66]

Accolades[edit]

The album earned Usher three American Music Award nominations.[67] He won two of the awards for Favorite R&B album and Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist.[68] The album also earned him four Soul Train Music Award nominations; including, Best R&B/Soul Artist Male, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Dance Performance.[69] Usher tied Alicia Keys for the most Soul Train Music Award nominations that year.[69] He won two of the nominations for Best Male R&B/Soul Artist and Album of the Year award.[70] At the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011, Raymond v. Raymond won both its nominations for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.[71] Usher won a NRJ Music Award for International Male Artist of the Year.[72]

Usher appeared on several Billboard year-end charts in 2010; he was ranked as the third top US Billboard Hot 100 artist.[73] He was placed as the top R&B/Hip Hop Artist,[74] the sixth top overall artist,[75] and the ninth top Pop artist.[76] The following year, Usher won three Billboard Music Awards, receiving honors as Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Album for Raymond v. Raymond, and Top R&B Song for "OMG".[77]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 329,107 copies, becoming Usher's third consecutive US number-one album.[78] Its first week sales, at the time of its release, served as the third-largest one-week sales of 2010 in the US.[78] According to Billboard, the album's first-week sales had been supported by his appearances on the television shows American Idol and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, both of which featured him performing the single "OMG".[78] The album sold over 92,000 copies in the US in its second week of release.[79] It sold over 64,000 copies in its third week of release.[80] It then sold 52,000 copies in its fourth week of release.[81][82] In its fifth week of release it sold 48,000 copies.[83] In its sixth week of release sales increased with 51,000 copies sold.[84] By March 2012, it has sold over 1.3 million copies in the US.[85] On June 17, 2010, Raymond v. Raymond was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[86] The album topped the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for seven consecutive weeks.[87] It was placed as one of the ten best selling albums of 2010, ranking at number nine, selling 1.18 million copies that year.[88]

The album debuted at number four in Canada,[89] and has been certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), for shipments of 80,000 copies.[90] Raymond v. Raymond debuted at number two in the United Kingdom, with English rapper Plan B's The Defamation of Strickland Banks debuting at number one.[91] The latter album opened with 41,001 copies sold with Raymond v. Raymond opening with 40,788 units.[91] Its first week figures are lower than Usher's three preceding albums.[91] Raymond v. Raymond reached number-two in Australia and the album has been certified platinum by the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA).[92] It also entered within the top-ten of charts in several other countries.[16] The album's tracks and ring tones have sold more than seven million combined units, and by December 1, 2010, the album itself had sold over 2 million copies worldwide.[93]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Monstar"   Usher Raymond IV, James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Bobby Ross Avila, Issiah J. Avila, Miguel Pimentel, Juan Najera Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis 5:01
2. "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)"   Raymond IV, Andrew Harr, Jermaine Jackson, Richard Butler, Jr. The Runners, Rico Love 3:44
3. "There Goes My Baby"   Butler, Jr., James Scheffer, Frank Romano, Danny Morris Jim Jonsin, Love 4:41
4. "Lil Freak" (featuring Nicki Minaj) Raymond IV, Elvis Williams, Jamal Jones, Esther Dean, Onika Maraj Polow da Don 3:54
5. "She Don't Know" (featuring Ludacris) Sean Garrett, Shondrae Crawford, Raymond IV, Christopher Bridges, Ebo Taylor Bangladesh, Sean Garrett 4:03
6. "OMG" (featuring will.i.am) William Adams will.i.am 4:29
7. "Mars vs. Venus"   Raymond IV, Harris III, Lewis, B. Avila, I. Avila, Pimentel Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis 4:22
8. "Pro Lover"   Raymond IV, Harris III, Lewis, B. Avila, I. Avila, Pimentel Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis 5:02
9. "Foolin' Around"   Raymond IV, Bryan-Michael Cox, Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin Cox, Dupri 4:11
10. "Papers"   Raymond IV, Garrett, Xavier Dotson, Alonzo Mathis Zaytoven, Garrett 4:21
11. "So Many Girls" (additional vocals by Diddy) Raymond IV, Nathaniel Hill, Butler, Jr., Marcella Araica Danja 4:36
12. "Guilty" (featuring T.I.) Dean, Raymond IV, Clifford Harris, Keith Thomas, Alexander "Prettyboifresh" Parhm, Jr. Prettyboifresh 3:44
13. "Okay"   James Lackey, Ryon Lovett James "JLack" Lackey 3:15
14. "Making Love (Into the Night)"   Butler, Jr., Scheffer, Morris, Benny Mardones Jonsin, Love 3:36
Total length:
58:59
Sample credits[94]

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Raymond v. Raymond adapted from AllMusic.[97]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[92] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[90] Platinum 80,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[124] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[86] Platinum 1,300,000[85]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Edition
Germany[125] March 26, 2010 Arista Records Standard
United States March 30, 2010[46] LaFace Records
August 24, 2010[126] Deluxe
Canada March 30, 2010[127] Standard
August 24, 2010[128] Sony Music Entertainment Deluxe
Brazil[129] April 15, 2010 Standard
Japan[130] April 21, 2010
United Kingdom April 26, 2010[47] RCA Records
September 20, 2010[131] Deluxe

See also[edit]

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