August 13, 2001 12:00 PM

Usher (Arista)

Album of the week

When singer-actor Usher scrapped plans to release this, his third album—originally titled All About U—in December after some of its songs were leaked on the Internet, it may have been a blessing in disguise. The 22-year-old scrambled back to the studio and came up with the No. 1 single “U Remind Me,” an old-fashioned soul ditty that in these hip-hop-happy times is as refreshing as a dip in the pool.

The rest of 8701—which contains roughly half the tracks originally set for All About U—doesn’t quite match the effortless snap of “U Remind Me,” but other choice cuts include the similarly retro “Twork It Out,” the Latin-flavored “How Do I Say” and the rap-tinged “I Don’t Know.” And Usher turns up the heat with the sexy slow jam “U Got It Bad.”

Bottom Line: Good for U

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