Here I Stand (LaFace)

Usher R&B The-Dream

Usher spent the duration of his hit 2004 CD, Confessions, divulging one secret after another. On Here I Stand, his fifth album, the R&B lothario is tired of talking. It's time for some action. "You get on top tonight/I'm on the bottom/Cuz we trading places/When I can't take no more/You say you ain't stopping/Cuz we trading places." R. Kelly, you've met your match.

"Trading Places" stands as one of the leanest songs on the 29-year-old singer's most mature record, in which he gets his freak on in the bedroom, in the club . . . pretty much anywhere he wants to. But now that he's a married man, Usher prefers to get busy with his wife these days. He's grown up, and his words reflect this. Usher updates his sound too: Here I Stand cribs much from Love Hate, The-Dream's terrific 2007 record of spare, crawling robo-soul. And it occasionally spits out something truly great, like "Best Thing," a synth-swirl waffle cone topped with a dollop of Jay-Z.

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