As a music fan, often, an album is not that good on the first listen. I have found that sometimes you have to revisit an album when you are older and see if your feelings towards the project change. That said, I welcome you to the first edition of “Second Listen Sundays”, where I will revisit an album I did not particularly care for on the first listen and reevaluate it years later.
Up first is Usher’s 2012 release Looking 4 Myself.
Two years after releasing Raymond v.Raymond and its accompanying EP Versus, Usher’s seventh studio album Looking 4 Myself arrived in stores on June 8th, 2012. Before the album release, Usher mentioned to numerous press outlets that he was working on a new genre of music, which he depicted as “revolutionary pop.” Usher experimented with pop sounds and found success on his last two albums, particularly with “OMG” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.” Therefore, the route he took did not surprise me.
Now I am a huge Usher fan, but I never cared for the songs mentioned above. However, when Usher released the first single, “Climax,” in support of the album, I liked the direction he was going in and looked forward to the album. Usher and producer Diplo were able to construct a quiet storm slow jam with an electronic influence. When the album arrived in the summer, after hearing the first two tracks, “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” and “Scream,” I honestly wondered what happened to one of my favorite artists. Thankfully, things picked up for me at Track 4, which bears the title “I Care for u.” Produced by Danja, the song has a nice tempo and serves as a strong album track.
Danja also contributes the catchy “Show Me,” which has a lush summertime feel. Rick Ross joins Usher for the album’s third single, “Lemme See.” Usher wrote the song along with Eric Bellinger, Jim Jonsin, Danny Morris, Nickolas Marzouca, and London Knighten. While the production is helmed by Jonsin and Morris. The song is a mid-tempo R&B number and honestly should have been the first single. Usher reunites with Pharrell Williams for another catchy bop in “Twisted,” a great dance floor tune.
Usher closes out the album’s vital points with the Rico Love written ballad, “Dive.” The song gives Usher a chance to show off his falsetto range. At the same time, the lyrics successfully correlate diving to committing to a relationship. However, much to my dismay, the rest of the album was the beginning of Usher’s downward spiral, which would follow him to his next album and EP. Usher was thirty-four years old when he released Looking 4 Myself. The smart move would have been to start shifting towards the Urban AC crowd with the strongest material on the albums.
At most, one POP record like the second single “Scream” would’ve been ok as the song is catchy and was reminiscent of the singer’s earlier hits “OMG” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.” However, songs like “Numb,” “2nd Round,” and “Euphoria” miss the musical mark and serve as some of the worst songs Usher has ever recorded. Even collaborations with Salaam Remi on “Sins of My Father” and the legendary Terry Lewis are mediocre. Looking 4 Myself had fourteen tracks, with four additional if you bought the deluxe version. Thus, the album is too long and contains too much filler. Had Usher given fans an EP with track numbers two through eight, he would have a much more cohesive album and not this disjointed mess.
Top Tracks : “Lemme See”, “Dive” and “Climax”
2012 Initial Listen Grade: C-
2021 Relisten Grade: C+