When Usher announced the release of Versus, the sequel to Raymond Vs. Raymond from earlier this year, I was interested to see what we were in for because although I don't despise Raymond Vs. Raymond, I'm not its biggest fan either, so Ursh was either going to make up for it or head even further in the wrong direction. Not surprisingly, Versus isn't too different from Raymond Vs. Raymond, but dare I say that the 9-song set--despite its short running time--might just be a step in the RIGHT direction..!
"Love 'Em All": I know I've had time to get used to Usher returning to his man-whorish ways, but it's not just for that reason that I like this song better than just about every song with the same subject matter from Raymond Vs. Raymond. Here, he gives us a solid R&B song with some rockin' vocals! 4/5
"DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love" (ft. Pitbull): Lord knows Mr. Raymond has no business recording with Max Martin, but this is certainly a step up from that bang-my-head-against-the-wall trash "OMG". 3.5/5
"Hot Tottie" (ft. Jay-Z): As this is another Polow Da Don joint (see: "Lil' Freak"), it shouldn't surprise anyone that it's my favorite track. It's too bad that Ciara wasn't able to top this song off perfectly, but that's my only complaint. Even Jay's verse is hot. 4.5/5
"Lay You Down": A decent R&B slow jam, if not the best; another nice vocal display. 3.5/5
"Lingerie": Again, not his absolute best work, but a solid uptempo nonetheless. 3.5/5
(I'm omitting "There Goes My Baby" here because I've already shared my thoughts on it.)
"Get In My Car" (ft. Bun B): On the surface, it's not too bad... but is this not about prostitutes?! Regardless, it's nothing special. 2/5
"Somebody To Love (Remix)" (ft. Justin Bieber): This particular version features more vocals from Usher than the remix that has a video (although less than the leaked solo version) & for that reason, in addition to the fact that I like this mix better, I like it--despite Justin's presence. 3/5
"Stranger": Usher bookends this set nicely because this is a really good R&B slow jam. 4/5
Versus is unmistakably an extension of Raymond Vs. Raymond, but weeding out some of the trash seems to work for Usher, as he certainly has a split personality--just not the one he thinks he does--trying to please both his R&B & pop fans. That said, artists take note: 9-track "albums" by themselves is not gonna cut it. There's not enough material in that short of a span to fully convey the creative message that albums are supposed to. And although I'm sure it won't happen, my hope is that Usher takes the R&B skills we know he has, & that he shows glimpses of here, & fully develops them creatively on his next (full-length) album.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars