Usher has finally released his long awaited follow up to 2012’s Lookin 4 Myself. He’s still doing some soul searching here, but with less of a pop influence. This time he is catering more to his urban market. His swagger remains intact, although there seems to be a thirst to keep up with the times.
House and techno pop’s influence have lessened in the few years. The trap R&B sound has taken center stage. This is most evident on the far reaching, addictive “No Limit” featuring Young Thug and the jagged “Rivals” featuring Future. He’s clearly tuned in to what is current on the music scene. However, that’s also part of the problem.
His marketing team is likely banking on his iconic status to sell records. With a projected 25,000 first sales week, his focus should be less on modeling his sound after current day Chris Brown and Bryson Tiller. “Good Kisser” and “She Came To Give It To You” featuring Nicki Minaj failed to create much buzz, but speak more to his star power. Consequently, neither song is found on Hard II Love.
Usher serves up enough quality content to remind naysayers why he’s been around for two decades. “Tell Me” is an excellent, sensual ballad. The song clocks in at over 8 minutes long. The first single,”Crash” is cleverly crafted pop love torture. “Champion” closes out the album on a high note. The album is an uplifting track, taken from his starring role as Sugar Ray Leonard Hands of Stone.
Overall, Hard II Love isn’t a bad album. Hopefully, the project will receive the proper promotion it deserves before losing its steam. Usher is one of those artists who really doesn’t get the credit he should. He helped pave the way of his successors. Let’s just hope his next bout of soul searching produces a more inventive album.