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‘Looking 4 Myself’ Usher

In the previous decade, Usher, along with Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé, was part of an elite group of pop acts who released back-to-back albums that were epic and masterful.

He kicked off the new millennium with “8701,” an album full of R&B gems that became enduring staples. Though it’s nearly impossible to follow an album like that with something even better, he did with “Confessions”: The 2004 blockbuster was his superstar-making album and still ranks as one of the top 10 best-selling discs ever.

These days, Usher still racks up hit singles, but he hasn’t produced an album as brilliant since.

And he still hasn’t. But the entertaining “Looking 4 Myself” is his best attempt at making magical music following “Here I Stand” and “Raymond v. Raymond,” lackluster albums saved by a few sterling songs.

Usher’s 14-track set is a multigenre affair: There are midtempo grooves like “Show Me,” as well as bedroom R&B (“Dive”), rhythmic hip-hop (“Lemme See”), upbeat pop (“Twist”) and electro-dance numbers (“Scream,” “Numb,” “Euphoria”).

But the be-all-things-to-all-people approach doesn’t always work. Still, overall, “Looking” is a hit: The title track is amazing.

– Mesfin Fekadu, Associated Press

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