Hard II Love

Hard II Love

by Usher
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Overview

Looking 4 Myself became the fourth consecutive Usher album to top the Billboard 200 chart. Its follow-up, Hard II Love, arrived four years later -- by a matter of weeks, the singer's longest between-albums period to that point. The space was filled with several non-album singles, including the ribald Pop & Oak collaboration "Good Kisser" and meet-ups with Nicki Minaj and Juicy J, the latter of which, "I Don't Mind," went multi-platinum. There was a lot of activity outside the vocal booth: a coaching stint on The Voice, the UR Experience Tour, and the filming of the Roberto Durán biopic Hands of Stone, in which Usher portrayed Sugar Ray Leonard. "Champions," Usher and Rubén Blades' contribution to that movie's soundtrack, concludes Hard II Love and predictably sounds like a stray bonus cut. Any of those 2014-2015 singles would be more suited here. While there are instances in which Usher pushes himself vocally -- most so on the slightly church-ified arena pop belter "Stronger" and falsetto pleader "Tell Me" -- he proceeds with his tried-and-true formula, switching between street cuts, slow jams, and relatively pop-flavored material. He still wants to be called a mack, confides he's "still stuck in his ways," and demands, as usual, forgiveness for transgressions. Almost every track has a distinct set of producers and co-writers, and not one of them factored in the previous album. Usher reunites with the imaginative as ever Pop & Oak for "Missin U," a winding and alluring track full of switch-ups that involves a brilliantly placed usage of Steely Dan's "Third World Man." The aching/boasting "Bump," made with Tricky Stewart and the-Dream, would be another airwaves standout with shades of the Art of Noise's "Moments in Love" and the animated voices of Luke and Lil Jon in the background. For most of the selections, Usher connects with a lot of relative newcomers who either started or broke through after 2012. "Make U a Believer," produced by Metro Boomin, is surprisingly uneventful, while the Ready for the World-sampling PartyNextDoor production "Let Me" is a slinking highlight. Nothing here is destined for pop ubiquity, and nothing dazzles quite as much as past hits like "Climax," but this is the most pleasing Usher album in over a decade. In terms of ability, agility, and creativity, Usher's vocals still crush the commercial competition.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/16/2016
Label: Rca
UPC: 0888430693920
catalogNumber: 306939
Rank: 49094

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Usher   Primary Artist
Lil Jon   Vocals

Technical Credits

Rubén Blades   Composer
Keith Thomas   Composer,Vocal Producer
Melvin Riley   Composer
Walter Becker   Composer
Joseph Hill   Composer,Producer
Ryan Toby   Composer
Corey Williams   Composer,Additional Production
Raphael Saadiq   Composer,Producer
Kuk Harrell   Vocal Producer
Mark Pitts   Executive Producer
Christopher "Tricky" Stewart   Composer
Usher Raymond   Composer,Executive Producer
Coup d'Etat   Executive Producer
Paul Epworth   Composer,Programming,Producer
Jonathan Smith   Composer
Sam Thomas   Engineer
Joseph Hartwell Jones   Engineer
Dernst Emile   Producer
Jason McGee   Direction
Kory Aaron   Engineer,Vocal Engineer
Jeff Edwards   Engineer
Pierre-Luc Rioux   Composer
Seth Firkins   Engineer
Timothy Thomas   Composer
Theron Thomas   Composer
Juan Najera   Composer
Matt Wiggins   Engineer
Taura Stinson   Composer,Vocal Arrangements
Jaha Johnson   Executive Producer
Terius Nash   Composer
John "J-Banga" Kercy   Engineer
Robert Calloway   Composer
Adam Feeney   Composer
Metro Boomin   Producer
PartyNextDoor   Producer
Leland Wayne   Composer
Albert Andre Bowman   Composer
Carlos St. John   Producer
George K. Johnson   Composer
Bibi Bourelly   Composer
Christopher Perry   Composer,Producer
Lee Stashenko   Composer
Jahron Brathwaite   Composer
Andrew Fridge   Composer
Taji Ausar   Composer
Elley Duhé   Composer
David Hughes   Composer,Producer
Trevian Chandler   Composer
Tre Drumz   Producer
Titus Stubblefield   Composer
Theron Wayne   Composer
Tane Runo   Producer
Murphy Kid   Programming
Faheem Mardre   Composer
Darius Ginn   Composer
Daniel Arsham   Art Direction,Sculpture

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