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'Confessions': Usher Tries on a New Image
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Popular music; Musical recordings -- Usher (musician)
Author: Elizabeth Mendez Berry
Date: Apr 14, 2004
Start Page: C.05
Section: STYLE

When he's not trying to conjure baby-mama drama out of thin air (he recently admitted that the title song is fictional after milking it for months), [Usher Raymond] shines. He works with some of his favorite old producers -- Jermaine Dupri, Jam and Lewis -- as well as a new crop of stars. The Just Blaze-produced "Throwback" is a rich combination of the vintage hip-hop aesthetic (patented by Blaze and Kanye West at Roc-A-Fella) now current and Usher's soaring vocals. With a Dionne Warwick sample as punctuation, and loose, warm drums, the song captures an evocative wistfulness. New Philly sound architects Dre and Vidal are behind the slithering bass line of the exhilarating "Caught Up," along with the delicate, guitar-laced underpinnings of the gorgeous "Superstar."

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