Here I Stand is Usher's fifth studio album that was released on May 13, 2008 by LaFace Records.
- Love In This Club (featuring Jeezy)
- This Ain't Sex
- Trading Places
- Moving Mountains
- What's Your Name (featuring Will.I.Am)
- Prayer For You (Interlude)
- Something Special
- Love You Gently
- Best Thing (featuring Jay-Z)
- Before I Met You
- His Mistakes
- What's A Man To Do
- Love In This Club Part II (featuring Lil Wayne and Beyoncé)
- Here I Stand
- Will Work For Love
In December 2005, Usher became romantically involved with stylist Tameka Foster; the two wed on August 3, 2007, although Usher's mother and manager, Jonnetta Patton, did not attend. Foster gave birth to their so, Usher Raymond V later that year.
In May 2007, Usher split with Patton as his manager. This prompted "gossip" that Usher had "fired" her because of his growing relationship with Foster. He denied the claims, saying, "I love my mother ... I decided not to fire, not get rid of, but to give [my mother] the ultimate compliment—to retire her to be a full-time grandmother." He continued by stating that the split was a mutual decision.
It was speculated that Patton's dismissal was due to his engagement with Foster. Usher dismissed these claims on "Total Request Live" in May of 2008 in what MTV News' Shawn Adler called an "angry tirade" with Usher stating, ""My wife had nothing to do with me firing my mother — nothing like that, that's trash. I hear y'all talking crazy out there. She's a beautiful black woman. Stop. Stop talking. And I love her. Stop it."
The outbreak was compared to Mariah Carey's unannounced 2001 appearance on TRL, when she handed out popsicles to the show's audience and performed a "striptease", while some fans noted Usher's speech as evidence that Foster was being controlling of Usher.
Usher hired Benny Medina as his new manager; Medina said about him, "The thing that excited me most is the intense commitment to his art, his incredible professionalism and the fact that I feel as though he's just hitting a stride."
In January 2008, Usher's father, Usher Raymond III, died; both men regretted not spending more time in each other's lives.
The seventh track, "Prayer for You" is an interlude dedicated to Usher's son, reflective on his relationship with his own father; "No matter what happened, my father always prayed for me. The only difference is, I'm gonna be there to be the father that my dad wished he was to me."
The first album name that artists and repertoire representative Mark Pitts conceived was "Measure of a Man", but that title had already been used by Clay Aiken for his debut album, so Usher called it "Here I Stand".
Pitts said, "It was perfect because becoming a man is about going through pain, sorrow, and happiness. Usher's done that! From the love songs to the party joints, it's exactly the story he wanted to tell."
Usher noted "Here I Stand" as beginning "a new chapter in my life"; the album's liner notes contain a verse from 1 Corinthians 13: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
"Here I Stand" marked Usher's growth from boyhood to manhood. In March 2007, it was announced that work on the album had begun. Usher outlined the album's concept: "A lot of what I plan to offer with this album is kinda standing in this spot ... The king's back. I ain't gonna say 'back,' I never left."
The Rich Harrison-produced track, titled "Dat Girl Right There" (featuring Ludacris) was leaked on November 11, 2007. The song charted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 74, due to high airplay; however, it was not included on the record.
Other potential tracks cited before the album's release were "All the Time" (produced by T-Pain) and "The Realest" (produced by Jermaine Dupri), although neither of them were included on the album.
"Here I Stand" contains eighteen tracks; James "JLack" Lackey, Polow da Don, Tricky Stewart, Jazze Pha, The-Dream, Los da Mystro, will.i.am, Dupri, Manuel Seal, LRoc, Dre & Vidal, Bryan-Michael Cox, Stargate, Ne-Yo, Danja, Soundz and J. R. Rotem all produced tunes on the album.
On the iTunes Store deluxe edition, "Revolver" was included, which was produced by Alexander "Prettyboifresh" Parhm.
"Here I Stand" opens with an "Intro" (titled "Forever Young" on some copies), while the lead single "Love in This Club" follows, on which Young Jeezy appears. The mid-tempo song features a shuddering synth beat and speaks of a lusting desire in a nightclub.
"This Ain't Sex" is a disco-influenced song that "speaks of sex as a privileged act between two consenting adults".
"Trading Places" uses guitar instrumentation to host role reversal in both sexual and non-sexual situations in a relationship.
"Moving Mountains" is a ballad that draws on synth beats to relate a love struggle to an impossible task, such as moving mountains.
The album's sixth track is "What's Your Name", an electro song which features new wave-influenced synths produced by will.i.am, who also contributes vocals to the song.
The "Prayer for You" interlude follows, an ode to Usher's son in which Raymond V cries. Usher prays for his son to be "better than me".
"Something Special" is a pop ballad that begins acoustically. It was inspired by Robin Thicke and John Mayer because of its honesty. Usher discussed the song: "It's about the feeling when you're in real love. It could be about my son or my wife."
According to Usher "Love You Gently", a piano-based classic rhythm and blues ballad, is "the one [track] you throw on with your significant other when it's time to get to it. This is why my son's here. It's a baby-maker."
Jay-Z appears on the horn-founded "Best Thing" which is about transition to manhood.
Usher outlines lifestyle changes since his wife's arrival and turns away from his days as "a hustler and a player" in "Before I Met You", which makes use of guitar and heavy drums. He is suspected of infidelity and compared to his girlfriend's cheating ex-partner on "His Mistakes".
The thirteenth track "Appetite" utilizes flutes and has Usher tempted to cheat on his wife.
"What's a Man to Do" opens with a Native Indian call, while "Lifetime" contains influences of 1990s R&B.
"Love in This Club Part II" features vocals from Beyoncé Knowles and Lil Wayne and samples The Stylistics' song "You Are Everything"; its lyrical content is similar to that of Part I, and Wayne's voice is modified through the use of a vocoder.
The album's soul and pop jazz-derived title track, "Here I Stand", drew comparisons to Stevie Wonder. With a theme of commitment, it was played at Usher's and Foster's wedding.
The album closes with "Will Work for Love", although it was placed as a hidden track on some copies; Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called it "cute."
"Here I Stand" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 433,000 copies domestically during its first week of release, making it the second highest-selling debut of the year in the United States at the time.
The album was certified platinum by the RIAA and as of May 2012, it has sold 1,308,000 copies in the United States.
"Here I Stand" received generally positive reviews from music critics.
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received a score of 65 out of 100, based on fifteen reviews.
Mark Edward Nero of About.com gave the album four out of five stars, and wrote that Usher's marriage had a positive effect on his music. He called it "as good - if not better" than "Confessions."
IGN critic Chad Grischow wrote that "Growing up may have taken toll on Usher's personal life, but it has not altered the man's ability to create refreshing music"; Grischow rated the album 8.1 out of 10.
USA Today praised the maturity of Usher's lyrics on the album while The A.V. Club's Joshua Alston commended the album's ballads.
Although she disliked the album's length and lyrics, Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt wrote that "a good portion of [Here I] Stand's tunes deserve a place in the dance-floor pantheon", and awarded it a B+ grade.
Andy Kellman from Allmusic scored the record three-and-a-half stars out of five and stated that "the album leaves no doubt that the R&B male crown ... should not change hands", referring to Usher's King of R&B honorific nickname.
Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times did not appreciate the numerous ballads on the release, but compared it to Usher's previous work and declared, "it's a more accomplished version of Confessions, the hooks more effortless, the singing even better, the songwriting more consistent."
Jim DeRogatis from the Chicago Sun-Times viewed it as proof that Usher has claimed the 'King of R&B' title from R. Kelly.
However, Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music felt that the album lacked inspiration, and wrote, "nothing sticks, there's no guts, no depth and no matter how much he protests to the contrary, nothing to believe".
Rolling Stone's Melissa Maerz perceived that Usher had put little effort into the record and stated that "now that he's got the American Dream, he sounds like he's stopped trying."
Blender's Josh Eells was let down by the large number of ballads and lack of sexual content.
Clover Hope of The Village Voice described it as "pure grown-man bidness" and "a little too sitting-on-the-dock-of-the-bay for Chris Breezy–trained earbuds".
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine scored "Here I Stand" two-and-a-half stars out of five, and considered the music "almost always just one notch above mediocrity."
The Observer's Steve Yates panned the album as "gloop [Usher] wades through."
In his consumer guide for MSN Music, Robert Christgau cited the songs "Trading Places" and "Best Thing" as "choice cuts", indicating "good song[s] on an album that isn't worth your time or money".
Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote that "tension, not bliss, creates the album's best songs", referring to "Moving Mountains", "His Mistakes", "Appetite" and "What's a Man To Do."