New Album: Usher – “Hard II Love”

Usher performing at the iheartradio album release party in New York City. Photo courtesy of Billboard.com - link under resources.

Usher performing at the iheartradio Album Release party in New York City. Photo courtesy of Billboard.com.

Usher’s Hard II Love is in fact extremely easy to love! Yes, it is as amazing as everyone else is raving it to be. Well, at least I haven’t heard too many negative reviews from those who have already had the chance to listen to it. Let’s see what these folks had to say:

Brooding, adventurous..an album that looks forward while remaining true to what’s made him one of R&B’s most reliable stars..manages to stretch the boundaries of R&B while winding toward the brooding atmospherics that have enveloped much of pop over the past 12 months.” -4 Stars, Rolling Stone

Usher meets his goals and then some on Hard II Love, with sexy bangers..you’ll be reminded of the Usher that wanted to take things nice and slow, the guys you wanted to let it burn with.” – MTV

RCA Records released Hard II Love this past September, making this his eighth studio album. The R&B singer is still dominating the media making appearances all over the world for his tour like “The UR Experience” and special shows like the “iHeartRadio Music Festival,” which had an All-Star lineup including U2, Britney Spears, OneRepublic, Twenty One Pilots, Ariana Grande, and many, many more. Usher’s long time friends, Lil Jon and Ludacris also made an appearance joining him on stage performing some nostalgic musical favorites.

[Left to right] Ludacris, Usher, and Lil Jon. Photo Courtesy of Billboard.

[Left to right] Ludacris, Usher, and Lil Jon. Photo Courtesy of Billboard.com.

Hard II Love is a body of work that’s showing the world Usher is not slowing down any time soon. My ultimate impression comes from the way Usher is able to stay relevant by constantly evolving with the times, but staying true to his unique artistry. His melodic vocals go so well with the production that keeps his music sounding fresh track to track; like a song for each mood. He has tracks about love, life, and strength. One of my personal favorites include, Bump, reminiscent of the classic seductive songs Usher’s usually known for like Nice and Slow. He closes the album with a couple songs which deem appropriate for the tough times in life like the track Stronger which is very uplifting. He closes out with Champions where he links up with Panamanian Singer Rubén Blades, a song from his film Hands of Stone.

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Let’s take a step back and look at the meaning behind his Album cover. According to his Instagram,

The portrait sculpture of Usher is made in ash and Crystal, as if we are in the year 2800 looking at an eroded statue made of you in 2016. The cracks and erosions in the sculpture represent ‘Flaws’ and that things and people are not always as perfect or beautiful as they appear on the outside – relating to some of the themes in the album. – Daniel Arsham

Hard II Love is available on all digital outlets and some stores near you. Purchase on itunes here. What are your thoughts on the album? Love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments!

Resources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_II_Love
https://www.rcarecords.com/artist/usher/
http://news.iheart.com/features/iheartradio-music-festival-796/articles/15/494041/iheartradio-music-festival-2016-lineup-14938245/
https://www.instagram.com/usher/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champions_(Usher_and_Rubén_Blades_song)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubén_Blades
http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/music-festivals/7518921/usher-ludacris-lil-jon-iheartradio-music-festival-day-2
http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/7511227/usher-delivers-sensuous-hard-ii-love-secret-show-listening-party-new-york

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