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Hard II Love is Usher's eighth studio album which was released on September 16, 2016 by RCA Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Need U (Conversation with Priyanka Chopra)
  2. Missin U
  3. No Limit (featuring Young Thug)
  4. Bump
  5. Let Me
  6. Down Time
  7. Crash
  8. Make U A Believer
  9. Mind Of A Man
  10. FWM
  11. Rivals (featuring Future)
  12. Tell Me
  13. Hard II Love
  14. Stronger
  15. Champions (From The Motion Picture "Hands Of Stone")

Album BackgroundEdit

In an interview with Rap-Up, singer and songwriter Eric Bellinger explained that himself, along with Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox and Brian Alexander Morgan, were working on Usher's next album. Bellinger compared the album's music to Usher's Confessions, saying that it is "more urban" than "Looking 4 Myself." The latter declared that his next album would show that he is "still Usher".

In an interview with Billboard, Bellinger explained that Usher created music for his previous albums based on what people wanted to hear.

For his follow-up project, he chose to do music based on "what he wants to do in his heart", placing R&B as the album's main focus.

On January 6, 2014, RCA Records CEO Peter Edge described Usher's album as "one of his best records," and stated that new music from the record would be released in conjunction with his return on the sixth season of "The Voice" on February 24.

The album would feature several guest appearances and contributions from Nicki Minaj, Pop & Oak, Steve Mostyn of Public School, Pharrell Williams, Jermaine Dupri, Diplo, Ed Sheeran, Skrillex, Drake and Chris Brown.

Usher teamed up with Honey Nut Cheerios in a conjoint promotional effort, where the singer is shown dancing to the album's second single "She Came to Give It to You" with the Honey Nut Cheerios bee. During the outset of the commercial, the album's title was rumored to be UR, Usher's initials.

On September 8, 2014, Usher told Billboard, that the album would be indefinitely delayed, though wouldn't divulge further details due to the album not being finished; it was to be originally released in September 2014.

On January 14, 2016, after continual delays of his eighth album, Usher announced via Instagram that the official title of the album would be titled "Flawed."

On August 2016, an iTunes New Zealand link popped up with a new Usher album, along with the title of the album being called "Hard II Love". He then confirmed the title on the late-night talk show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Hard II Love" debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 with 38,000 album-equivalent units and selling 28,000 copies during its first week.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Hard II Love" received generally positive reviews from critics.

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 74, based on 8 reviews.

Maura Johnston of Rolling Stone expresses that the album "stretches the boundaries of R&B while winding toward the brooding atmospherics that have enveloped much of pop over the past 12 months."

Chris DeVille of Stereogum wore that the album "suggests Usher will continue to make hits, headline arenas, and be one of the world's most beloved musical superstars. The guy's natural singing prowess and effortless ability to jump across genre make him a national treasure. In just about every context, he sounds like a pro."

John Pareles of The New York Times commented "he has all the gifts and skills he needs, starting with a genuinely expressive voice that encompasses an ardent croon, a melting falsetto and quick, singsong declamation that puts him at the border of rapping.

Told Wright from Vulture wrote "the album is a true return to form for the R&B artist, complete with falsetto crooning and sexy bed-thumping beats".

Ira Madison III from MTV wrote that "sexy bangers like 'Bump,' 'Tell Me,' and 'Make U a Believer', helps Usher meets his goals and then some on Hard II Love after seeing few years 'experimenting' with music, he told us, now he's ready to release a classic R&B album again".

John Reyes of Idolator wrote" Hard II Love" is impressive because it "shows an R&B vet who's been around for two decades" and has sold 43 million albums worldwide.

Clover Hope of Jezebel complimented Usher's vocals, saying that "his seamless melodies and fluid vocal strokes remain leaps and bounds ahead of his peers".

AllMusic's Andy Kellman felt that "Hard II Love 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."

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