Looking 4 Myself (Expanded Edition)

Looking 4 Myself (Expanded Edition)

USHER’s seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself, perhaps more than any of the ones that precede it, is a spot-on time capsule for when it was released. The production (especially on tracks like “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” “Scream,” and “Numb”) leaned so heavily on the Top 40, dubstep-inspired pop of the day that it’s hard not to visualize disorienting blinks of strobe lights and fog machines clouding up a crowded nightclub when listening. The album also found USHER in an experimental mood, something that appears to be the result of his confidence to contort himself to fit any form of pop music. And he pulled it off in many instances, even if the album isn’t one that is revisited as much as his classics. As with all USHER projects, Looking 4 Myself has such surefire hits sprinkled throughout that when you revisit them, you somehow still know all the words without realizing they were tied to any album. The Diplo-produced single “Climax'' is the best example of that: The song teases some EDM-like synths at its start, but they quickly dissolve into a syrupy sweet home for USHER’s falsetto. In hindsight, it’s one of his more memorable post-Confessions singles. Noah “40” Shebib, who was responsible for the darker, atmospheric sound of rising Canadian superstars at the time like Drake and The Weeknd, produced “What Happened to U,” a track about making up for lost time with an old fling. “Sins of My Father” feels more autobiographical than the bulk of his catalog. With a bassline that could frame it as country if he had different vocals, the song finds him grappling with inherited bad habits of his father, who was barely present. Elsewhere on Looking 4 Myself is a perfect reflection of the early 2010s, with guest appearances from Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky, and Pharrell.

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