Usher Raymond is still up to his old ways; at least it appears that way. His eighth studio album’s opening track “Need U” dialogue “I f&*ked up…I’m man enough to admit it.” After confessing his sins once again, the album is off to a good start. It’s not long before he has a cocky moment with the LP’s leading single “No Limit,” and that’s not the only time either. The Pharrell Williams produced song “FWM” is apologetic and cocky as he professes to be a work in progress. He also teamed up with hit-maker The Dream who penned the down-tempo crunk song “Bump.”
While the album material tells the story of a problematic man with its title track “Hard II Love,” he’s well aware that this time around getting her back won’t be easy. “Its like you’re gambling, falling for me, I’ll kill you, you’re gone lose.” You hear more of its story with the light foot-tapping dance track “Crash.” Admitting to his infidelity on the interlude “Mind of a Man,” he tries best to make up for them with ”Make U Believer,” and “Let Me” which samples Ready for the World’s late 80’s hit “Love You Down.” He also offers his testimony on “Rivals” with subtle assistance from Future. It’s just too bad he still has side chicks lingering around. On “Downtime” he informs his fling that she’s not to question the events or activities that take place in her absence.
The final two tracks of the album sound like out of place bonus tracks. However, right before that you’re able to tell he’s won her back as they have make-up sex to “Tell Me,” a eight-minute long plus track with Usher giving the ultimate crooner vocal performance.
Hard II Love is an array of things. More than just the story of a man who’s complicated. Usher is known for making very lyrical cohesive albums, and Hard II Love has many layers to it’s songs along with fresh and great production. The genius side is it’s unexpectedness and radio friendly tracks. Unlike his past attempts of music exploration, he got it right this time around. It’s the perfect blend of Pop, R&B, and Atlanta that’s forward movement. Hard II Love was made for “men who don’t think love is cool to do,” said Usher during a Q&A for Tidal. The album represents love, but more importantly it represents the plight and transformation one experiences, which makes them Hard II Love.
SIDENOTE: I guess it’s safe to say that he scrapped the prior album loosely named “UR” and contained “Good Kisser,” She Came to Give it To You,” and “I Don’t Mind.” Hopefully we’ll get more of those songs later.