Multi-talented celebrity and artist Usher returns this fall with his eyes trained on the album charts with his new project, Hard II Love (Sept 16, RCA Records). He just finished promoting the release of his new movie, boxing epic Hands of Stone, in which he plays Sugar Ray Leonard next to cast members Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez. The veteran song master last released an album in 2012 (Looking 4 Myself), also on RCA, and with Hard II Love he brings more of his standalone love ballads, that take from modern r&b, hip-hop and pop trends with state of the art music productions assisting Usher’s deep vocals.
Usher is joined by guests Young Thug and Future, who put a contemporary twist on their particular tracks to say the least. For a predominately love-dominated endeavor (Usher’s typical stock in trade of course), Hard II Love has the megastar going through the full range of emotions, and not by accident. Usher knows correctly that a realistic personality who experiences both the highs and lows of love is a natural must that needs to be conveyed in the music. Hard II Love may not churn out the most hit singles per album for the man than any of his previous works, but it definitely has some with staying power. The calmly melodic “Crash” is a potential smash with its cool pop and throbbing electronic buzzing, as is the victory-themed, Spanish-flavored, Hands of Stone soundtrack cut “Champions.”
The album probably won’t be received as Usher’s best, but it’s a solid addition to his catalogue. It’s a generally mainstream product, rarely if ever experimenting in strange realms so it’s also very safe, not the most attractive trait in the world either; however, there is also nothing extraordinarily off-putting in store so every member of the family can get down with Hard II Love, a more or less successful venture that proves again why Usher is simply hard to hate.