Album Review: Hard II Love – Usher

Let me start by saying I’m an Usher fan since third-year high. I was 16 then. Now I’m 32, I’m surprised he still knows how to exceed all my expectations.


From his self-titled debut to My Way to 8701 to Confessions to Here I Stand to Raymond vs Raymond to Looking 4 Myself, it’s safe to say Usher managed to experiment with his sound.

Some are successful. Some are not. Yet forget the past. The past is history. He grew and learned from it.

Today marks his great return to R&B and there’s one thing I’ve clearly noticed: Usher completely takes his pro career to a higher level.

Hard II Love contains 15 tracks. Listening to every song makes me realize this is his new masterpiece, which is divided into two parts.

The first part is mostly about regret. The second part is about desire, sex then it closes with a story that inspires the world.

Track 1: Need U

The album opens with a soulful story of love. It’s the kind of love that seems to gone south but the man wants it all back. He realizes he needs the girl and he knows she completes him.

4 of 5 stars!

Track 2: Missin U

This is my personal favorite. It feels there are traces of old and new schools of R&B from start ’till end. It sounds experimental but it creates a series of stairs to maneuver the album from land to the galaxy of stars. The song tells a story of a man who misses the woman of his dreams.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 3: No Limit

Of course, an Usher’s album is incomplete without Hip-Hop. No Limit satisfies that craving. Thanks to Young Thug and this song becomes hotter and crisper to the ears.

4 of 5 stars!

Track 4: Bump

I’m listening to a New Usher in this. He takes risks to express his thoughts freely and surprisingly, the result is something that is fire. Bump is the song title but it feels there are no bad bumps at all.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 5: Let Me

Let me tells a story of a man who is insanely wants his woman back. Somehow, the story reminds me of Confessions. The biggest difference is, there’s a background vocal on-repeat. It keeps saying, “Let me love you”

4 of 5 stars!

Track 6: Downtime

It amazes me when Usher sings in various techniques while preserving the substance, which the song needs.

Downtime revolves around the story “I love you, I want you, but I don’t know why we’re having problems.”

4 of 5 stars!

Track 7: Crash

A personal favorite of mine. I was speechless the first time I’ve heard it. Usher sprinkled the song with vulnerability and regret.

Its music video blends with the story, in which the man remembers his girl. He wants a second chance of love but it seems all things will stay as a memory.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 8: Make U A Believer

It seems Crash is a difficult song to follow but Make U A Believer doesn’t disappoint. Seemingly a similar spin to No Limit, it delivers a message of “please believe me, not them.”

4 of 5 stars!

Track 9: Mind of A Man

This less-than a minute track (or shall I say interlude???) serves as a bridge to open a new chapter.

Track 10: FWM

It takes me a while to figure out what FWM means. Follow Me is something you say when you want to attract someone from your past.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 11: Rivals

It’s one of the album’s highlights. I’m surprised when Usher releases a music video without formal notice. Now, I understand why. The consistency of the song travels smoothly. I visualize it as a new concrete road. Its construction went rough but as time goes by, when it’s all done and open for public, people learn to like it.

Personally, it’s the one song that grows in me after numerous plays.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 12: Tell Me

Are you kidding me? This song is eight minutes long and every second is scorching hot. I heard a lot of sex songs. It’s an essential part of R&B.

Sometimes, I get tired with it but Tell Me is a whole lot different. Usher’s falsetto takes any listener to a smooth journey filled with pleasure and ecstasy.

“… I want to hold you ’till I can feel again.” 5 of 5 stars!

Track 13: Hard II Love

The album’s title is kind of ambiguously delicious. I’m not crazy about it and I don’t dislike it either. It’s the kind of song that shows Usher’s imperfection. He’s naked (figuratively) when he reveals he’s hard to love and trust.

The song sends a deep message of truth and acceptance. It also tells me Usher’s been through a lot and he keeps going no matter what.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 14: Stronger

This song inspires me. It makes me realize life is a never-ending journey of sadness, courage and hope.

5 of 5 stars!

Track 15: Champions

It’s the official soundtrack for the boxing-drama film “Hands of Stone,” in which Usher plays the role of Sugar Ray Leonard. This Afro-Caribbean uplifting song serves as a sweet finale, which happens to be an ideal theme song for Rio Olympics.

5 of 5 stars!

Overall rating: 9 of 10 stars!

If there are negative things about the album, there are two to mention. One, the album’s cover shows a decaying Usher that is made of concrete. It sends a message that he’s either done or he’s hopeless to make a comeback.

Or maybe, that’s the exact picture that describes Track 13: Hard II Love. You see, Usher is an accomplished artist, businessman and father. He’s physically fit with a chiseled abs.

People, myself included, envy how he looks. Yet, inside the exterior surface is a flawed human being.

Two, there’s no Good Kisser. Where is it? This song is hot. The music video is also hot. I wish it’s part of this masterpiece but somehow, Hard II Love stands strong without it.

Therefore, this is the album I’ll always listen to and will never get tired. Usher returns to R&B with a blast and he blindsides me with all its greatness. I’m completely unprepared. Stream it now.

Photo Courtesy of: Facebook

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