Usher is up there when it comes to my all-time favorite singers. “Nice and Slow” might have been the first song that I could sing word for word. Now granted it was some years before I understood what the hell I was saying, but the point is that I’ve always thought Usher was dope. Unfortunately, over the years his music has lost it’s luster for me, sounding more and more uninspired. But “No Limit” sounded like his best song in I don’t know how long, and it had me ready to give him another shot on Hard II Love.
“I’m just tryna make you mine Tryna make you mine, yeah I’m tryna make you mine Put a tingle in your spine We got a vibe, we got a wave You should ride on it”
The problem with his most recent stuff for me was it sounded like he was reaching for trends instead of being true to him. It all sounded like generic dance music that could’ve been put together by just about any artist out there, not Usher. This time around on Hard II Love he returns to his more traditional R&B roots, albeit updated for the times, and it pays off. The aformentioned “No Limit” has a smooth bass line that runs throughout that gets paired with these southern trap kicks and hi-hats that blend together perfectly. “FWM” initially sounds like it’s going to go the generic dance song route but instead keeps the tempo and adds in some nice drums. “Missin U” has great change-ups in it’s choruses where horns blare through before switching back into hard hitting percussions. This pairing of newer sounds with older traditional R&B staples can be found on a lot of the songs and I think this is the most successful he’s been at it in years.
“I’ve had my share of ups and downs I’ve had my share of down and outs Baptized in a river and almost drowned Thats when I figured out I’m stronger than ever now, stronger than ever now”
Hard II Love has the typical great vocals you’ve come to expect from Usher. His voice is smooth as hell and the melodies sound great. The content of his lyrics also haven’t changed much from what most people have grown accustomed to; love, relationships, women, sex, etc. It’s nothing new, and he does these types of songs better than most. However, within the new edgier landscape of R&B it can sound a bit outdated at times.
Have you heard Hard II Love? What’d you think about it? Has he gained some of his magic back? Or do you think he never lost it? Is his sound too outdated in today’s R&B? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave a rating for the album.
Hard II Love is probably one of Usher's strongest projects in years. His vocals are strong as ever and the production mostly manages to blend more traditional R&B staples with newer trends successfully. Some of the subject matter, however, feels outdated in today's edgier R&B landscape.