The latest from is that Usher’s going to drop a new album next year. But what about Here I Stand, which dropped in late May just this year? Personally, I thought the album was above average, but lacked that extra Usher something. Money Mike and I discussed this when we talked about commercial R&B in 2008.

Usher says that Ne-Yo will be a part of the new project and Ne-Yo had a lot to say about Usher’s latest work.

Well, I was one of the first people to tell Usher, personally, that I didn’t think he was focused on the album … on Here I Stand. I don’t think his focus was in the right place. And I’m a dude, and that’s my personal opinion and I’m entitled to it, and he respected that I kept it real with him about that. I think that this time around … It’s not so much that I think Here I Stand was a bad record, it just wasn’t the Usher that we remembered. I mean, that joint [Confessions] right there went 10-15 million worldwide, so it was going to be difficult to come back from that anyway. So I just think he’s gotta get back to what he knows, which is to get out there and make ’em dance — entertain them at the end of the day. Like, it seems like he had a lot to say, almost like he had something to prove with the Here I Stand record. Like a different dude now: ‘I got a family now, and this is who I am.’ As opposed to before, when it was about, ‘I’mma get up and entertain y’all. I’m gonna sing songs that got something to say, but at the same time, I’m gonna entertain y’all.’ And I think he just needs to get back there. And I think that’s where he’ll wind up.

To shorten what he said, it sounds to me that he just didn’t think the album was hot, no matter what the themes were. And I think that’s what I was getting at. Musically, Here I Stand was fine. But it wasn’t hot. There wasn’t anything on that record that made you stand up and listen.

But what Ne-Yo didn’t say was that he made the album Usher was striving for. If you haven’t heard to Year Of The Gentleman, check it out. It’s a more maturely written record on the relationships vibe than Usher’s was.

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