Album Review: Usher- Raymond vs Raymond

Usher’s sixth studio album, Raymond vs Raymond, is way hotter than I expected. The album has unveiled the two or three different persona of the American R&B artist. All those fourteen songs (one additional song can be downloaded in iTunes) tell a story of a man searching for short-term pleasure, genuine love and the honest truth.

The Good

1) The cover label of the album is probably one of the standout covers in history.The idea of showing the left and right frontal side of Usher immediately captures your attention.

It will keep you guessing what has to be expected once you insert the disc inside the CD player.

2) The order of the track is kinda unique. I have nothing to complain about it. The fourteen songs are trying to paint a picture out of the several intensities and sounds.

3) Somehow, it is all back to basics for Usher. He’s exploring things but at the same time, he’s feeling more comfortable to making fast and upbeat music. As Mark Edward Nero of About.com said; “Sex, love, cheating and drama – the four basic ingredients in most of his previous work – are all in abundance here, and Usher has definitely regained his mojo.”

4) I am hearing a much thirsty Usher in Raymond vs Raymond. This is the type of Usher I am listening in You Make Me Wanna + U Got it Bad + Yeah.

The Bad

The messages of the songs are somewhat all over the place inconsistent from the whole idea of what the album is all about. There are times it confuses you. Yet, once you start to bring together the white spaces in between, you’ll see the truth and suddenly realize, “Usher simply wants to be happy.”

My Top Five Picks

1) Track 6: OMG Featuring Will.i.am

Usher showed his spectacular vocals and dancing moves when he performed this song in 2010 American Idol Top Ten Result Show. Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, the songwriter, has certainly not failed Usher and helped him uncover a different zone inside him. A zone that he feels comfortable while sprinkling it with a unique taste of vibe. ***4 of 5 stars

2) Track 4: Lil Freak Featuring Nicki Minaj

This is basically one of the many Usher’s horny songs just like in the old days. Usher is in the club again or shall I say, inside a brothel. Which one?

Never mind as long as he’s having fun. If you ask me, this is the one song that gives you the kick to start your day and with a HURRAH. The stirring beat with Nicki Minaj’s dirty rap simply goes on and on and on. That’s absolutely hot! ***4 of 5 stars

3) Track 9: Foolin’ Around

This is the type of song that has a depth and is filled with good substance. Once you listen to the song, you’ll see the dissatisfied Usher who has several questions and regrets. Usher has a good approach of telling a story of a man who wants to let go of a romantic relationship that won’t work. ***5 of 5 stars

4) Track 10: Papers

This is the first buzz single of the album and it has reached number one in US R&B Billboard Singles Charts for two weeks. The first time you listen to the song, you can immediately feel the pain and hurt of a man who’s undergoing a divorce. ***4 of 5 stars

5) Track 1: Monstar

The way I see it, this is simply the “right” way to open a Hip-Hop/R&B album. It feels weird to listen to Monstar the first time due to its overly produced heavy beat. Yet, if you’ll listen to it again, you’ll realize “Hey, this song got the groove, and yeah, I am digging it!” This song is kinda hot, makes you think and feel, especially when Usher opens up and say:

There’s three sides to every story,
There’s one side, there’s the other
And then there’s the truth.

***3.5 of 5 stars

Bonus Track: Here is the music video of 15th track in the album and it’s only available for downloads in iTunes. It’s entitled MORE.

Overall rating: Usher’s Raymond vs Raymond is a powerful album. Usher is hungry for creativity and is seeking for more. He showed the world he has still the ability to leave a mark in one’s mind and heart. For that, I’ll give it 8 of 10 stars.

Survivor Insights 63: Survivor Heroes vs Villains- The Yin Yang Ten

And then, there’s the Yin Yang “Merged Tribe” of Ten.

Villains = Parvati, Russel, Danielle, Jerri and Sandra

Heroes = Amanda, Colby, Rupert, Candice and JT

Time for JT to Go

JT, the last remaining castaway from season 18, was voted out because of three reasons:

1) JT is a huge social threat to the remaining five villains. Everybody loves JT and there’s no way the Villains could work with him.

2) JT was devoured into the world of pure lies. He completely knew he was a target when he gave his hidden immunity idol to Russel. The big problem here was JT did not find a way to reverse his mistakes.

David Bloomberg in RelityNewsOnline: Considering you only knew about Parvati by reputation and nothing about what was actually happening on her tribe, why were the Heroes so hell-bent on sending her home?

JT: We felt like Parvati was definitely going to be running the show over there. We knew that Rob and Tyson went home, both good athletes and people you’d want to have all the way around. One person known for doing things like that was Parvati. I knew I’d be first to go if she was calling the shots. Candice, Amanda, and James were afraid of her and wanted to get rid of her. I didn’t want her targeting me. It was a mistake on our part to think she was running things.

But I thought they did a good job last night to show she was playing very hard, taking care of the idols and getting them to the right spot.

3) JT has his chances during the immunity challenge. That was his last card for survival. If he only would have held onto the pole longer, he could be saved for another three days.

Parvati: Playing Smart

With two hidden immunity idols under her watch, Parvati became the most powerful castaway in Episode ten. She was certainly safe and she knew it. Unlike James in season 15, Parvati immediately secured herself a safe ticket for herself and chose to give her idols to Jerri and Sandra.

“It was one of the biggest moves ever and certainly the biggest of this season thus far.” Jeff Probst wrote in his blog. “The reactions as she passed out the first… and then the second idol were as good as it gets on Survivor.  This is how you play Survivor.  Full tilt boogie.  Parvati just made it into the Survivor Hall of Fame.”

Having said that,

1) Jerri was saved because of Parvati. She should be thankful for that. Can we see a Parvati-Jerri in the next episodes? Probably.

2) Not entirely sure of Sandra. Sandra did not like her tribe from the very beginning. Do I expect her to be loyal to Parv? No.

This will be sad but somewhat true. Sandra has probably cemented a revenge against her tribe, she’s going to flip and she has now the power to cut Parvati’s throat anytime. Sandra was instantly put in the power position now that the hidden idols are gone.

3) Just what I’ve said before, the Queen is the most powerful piece in a chess game. That’s right and Parvati is the queen of SURVIVOR. But, aha, there’s still a problem, Queen P has probably crushed the King’s ego with that move.

As we know, Russel was not the kind of person who feels uncomfortable when things went shaky. He wants everything under his control, right? Because of what happened, (It pains me to write this) Russel was not probably ready to forget what Parvati did to him. He was embarrassed and he hated it when he feels outclass.

The First Individual Immunity Challenge as Merged Tribe

Yes, Rob (for the Villains) and Candice (for the Heroes) actually won the Individual Immunity/Reward Challenge back in Episode 6 to avoid the Double Elimination.

That was a different case though.

Two tribes has been merged into one. That means, it’s their own individual game on board.

For that, Danielle (Runner-up in Season 12’s Panama Exile Island) still made HISTORY when she won the FIRST INDIVIDUAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE by hanging on a tall pole. This challenge was clearly made for the lightweight and the flexible. Congratulations Danielle!

Rupert and Colby couldn’t hold on to it. JT almost aced it but fell out.

It’s somewhat unusual to see the Captain America was not dominating this season. What happened with Colby? He was unbeatable and the Immunity King back in season two. Perhaps, it was about time for a change.

This season was not about the strongest and being physically fit and unfortunately, Colby was right in the middle of several bright names around.

Survivor Insight for the Day

“These internal messages false – these illusions of limitation, lack or inability came from others, not I. So I’m letting go of all of these ridiculous lies, which are no longer welcome in my mind or body. I don’t blame the senders of these false messages, because they most likely didn’t intend me harm, but they do not see my vision of my life, just as I can’t see their vision. I assert that I rule my own life, and I write my life’s purpose with my desires and actions. I proudly possess and use the courage and desire to invoke my vision with joy and gratitude.”

Rachel Ford

People Get Ready

Crystal Bowersox deserves to be named as the 2010 American Idol. Her version of Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready will remind you what this reality competition is about. This performance has substance, emotions, depth and soul. The whole world will ‘always’ remember this and that makes Crystal Bowersox a ‘complete’ artist.

Lyrics:

People get ready
There’s a train a commin’
U don’t need no baggage
U just get on board
All U need is faith
To hear the diesels hummin’
U don’t need no ticket
U just thank the lord

So people get ready
There’a a train to jordan
Picking up passengers
Coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There’s hope for all
Among those loved the most

There ain’t no room
For the hopeless sinner
Whom would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pitty on those whose
Chances grow thinner
For there is no hiding place
Against the kingdom’s throne

People get ready
There’s a train a commin’
U don’t need no baggage
U just get on board
All U need is faith
To hear the diesels hummin’
U don’t need no ticket
U just thank the lord

Rafa On the Sixth!

The King of Clay is back and he is back for good.

Rafael Nadal wins the first 1000 Clay Masters Tour in Monte Carlo for the sixth consecutive time and not dropping a set in his five matches. Receiving a bye in the first round, Rafa only allowed Thiemo de Bakker (67th in the world from Netherlands) and Michael Berrer (43rd in the world from Germany) to win one game during the second and third round.

Rafa met three compatriots going into the finals. Juan Carlos Ferrero pushed Rafa to work hard during the first set in the quarterfinals. Ferrero won four games but Rafa swept the second set and won at 6-2. Even David Ferrer couldn’t stand Rafa’s aggression in clay. Rafa won the semis 6-2, 6-3.

After upsetting Novak Djokovic, Fernando Verdasco surprisingly sailed through the finals. However, Rafael Nadal sealed this final match with a 6-0, 6-1 win over a good friend.

“For me [today] is very emotional,” admitted Nadal. “[It] is probably my favourite tournament. I love this tournament. [To] win here another time is a dream for me. The atmosphere here is unbelievable. I feel like [I’m at] home. No one match during seven years [have] I felt the crowd against me. I just can say thank you very much everybody.”