Usher 8701 Review

BBC Review

At 22 years of age he is fast becoming one of the hottest, multi-faceted talents in...

Christian Hopwood 2002

The rise and rise of Usher continues with the release of his fourth album 8701 this week. At 22 years of age he is fast becoming one of the hottest, multi-faceted talents in the US with the previous album, "My Way" selling seven million copies and finding time to act in four major movies. With so much achieved so soon the question arises as to whether a similar success can be repeated. 8701 sees Usher Raymond taking more control of the operation, developing his producing, singing and song writing skills to a new level and taking responsibility for twelve of the writing credits across the seventeen tracks.

That said this record has had an army of producers working on it, including The Neptunes, Baby Face and She'kespere working along side Usher. Combined with collaborators P. Diddy (formerly Puff Daddy) and Jermaine Dupri on "I Can't Let You Go" it is no wonder that this album sounds so polished and mature beyond his years. However, Usher's expert delivery cannot be denied and his range across the soulful ballad "Can U Help Me" and hip pop "I Don't Know" is both extensive and impressive. The up tempo single "Pop Ya Collar" is certainly one of the albums stand out tracks and, whilst catchy, lacks the universal appeal of "You Make Me Wanna" - the tune which made Usher a world wide phenomena a few years ago. With such a high profile Usher is indeed a pop star for the 21st Century - with writing, producing, performing, acting and making in roads into artist management in his repertoire he is definitely taking care of business. Full of soul and in control!

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