Usher’s right. As of late, he’s been hard to love. In his 20-plus year career, the R&B crooner has offered up his musical efforts straight from the hear. He has given fans incredible albums — like Confessions — one of the greatest R&B albums ever recorded, and straight-up misses such as “Daddy’s Home.” Plenty of R&B purists even took the leap with him into the depths of EDM. But for his eighth studio album, Usher doesn’t seem to lead listeners in a clear direction, making it hard to give it more than a few listens.
Without question, Usher is still a top-notch singer, but he’s struggling to find his lane. Is he pandering to Gen-Z by tailoring his sound to the trap landscape as seen on “No Limit,” or stay true to early Millennial sound that made him one of the biggest superstars of our time? For any artist, it’s a balancing act, but especially for the ATL chameleon, who has spent much of his career evolving.
Thematically, this 15-track record is solely about him taking ownership of relationship f*ck-ups and becoming a better man. That’s evident early on with his whole “gotta count for something” bit in the first track of the album. However, musically, it’s disjointed and sounds as if he’s still looking for himself. There’s not a ton of replay value and as a whole musical experience, it isn’t as immersive as some of his previous works.
While the hour-long sonic ride is tough to listen for anyone who’s been a diehard fan of his extensive early catalogue, there are still moments that one can appreciate from the R&B king.
Click through the gallery for 7 reasons why Hard II Love is still worth listening to.