Usher made his way to the top

We can say that Usher is a sort of music veteran. He started his career in the 90’s and his self-titled debut album were released in 1994! And since then, he maintained consistency throughout his career — and that’s an achievement in itself! Usher became a reference mostly in R&B and is an inspiration for many artists.

He is in the music business for more than 20 years now. He released 8 albums, performed countless duets with different artists and he tours around the world. It is not even surprising to know that Usher is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

This year, his second album, My Way, celebrates its 20th anniversary (in September)! This album was a great success and allowed Usher to rise to fame.

You Make Me Wanna…, Nice & Slow, My Way. Three singles, three songs coming from an iconic piece of work. It makes me wanna say that the 90’s were the good old times… See what I did there? 😉

Of course, Usher is not « just » a talented singer. He’s also a songwriter, a great performer, an amaaaazing dancer and actor but let’s focus on his music.

In this article, I chose to review two albums of his: My Way and his latest, Hard II Love.

My Way [1997]

Visual Identity

We can see how young he were at the time! Baby Usher (he was 18-19 years old) 😀 In my opinion, it is easy to guess when this album was released. I can see the 90’s vibes in the layout. Can’t you?

The booklet, accordion folded, contains both lyrics and photos of Usher including unavoidable and well-known shirtless pics… The cover that shows a high-angle shot of Usher, sets the mood for the visual identity of the album. The latter is obviously created around promo photos that are very « urban » and present a predominance of dark blue.

The typography used on the cover is definitely old school with the 3D effect but that’s not surprising. It has been released two decades ago after all. Same about the typography inside the booklet. It’s not bother at all except that the font size is a bit too small. It is better not to have sight problems (!)

Despite the unavoidable lack of modernity & originality of the visual identity, it remains effective and is good for the fans from the early days.

Musical Style
My Way is an R&B album that contains 10 tracks including an extended version of You Make Me Wanna… Most of the songs are downtempo but set a special & nostalgic mood that 80’s – 90’s children will appreciate 😉

Some of my favourite songs
You Make Me Wanna…, Nice & Slow, Slow Jam ft. Monica, My Way, I Will, Bedtime

Hard II Love [2016]

Visual Identity

Of course, there’s a HUGE difference between the visual identity of Hard II Love & My Way.

This one is clean and pure and is only in black & white with a predominance of white.  Modern fonts. Simple but efficient layout. But the booklet is a bit too thin, though. It only contains 8 pages: no lyrics but song credits, a Thank You message and 5 photos (including one of his arm!).

I think it is frustrating for the fans to receive so little.

Obviously this visual identity is conceptual. There’s a valued and aesthetic concept behind it that may be a bit difficult to understand for everyone.

But I think it is a pity that most albums have minimal artwork nowadays. I sincerely think that every booklet should be creative and include the lyrics. Even if hard copies are not as popular as they used to.

Musical Style
Hard II Love offers 15 tracks of different music genres: R&B, Hip Hop & Trap. Usher’s voice is at its best. The evolution in both his music and style is obvious.

Some of my favourite songs
No Limit ft. Young Thug, Need U, Let Me, Downtime, Crash, Tell Me.

What do I say about Usher?

Usher grew up both personally & professionally. He’s no longer a young man but a man. He improved his vocal technique & his music style evolved a lot even if the basic genre remains R&B.

In my opinion, his evolution makes sense. He evolves at his own pace without destabilising his fans. He respectes himself, his identity and is still easily recognizable. He also adapts to the Music Industry changes. All of this helps him keep his status as a major artist of the music scene.

I’d love to hear your opinion about Usher. Leave me a comment below to say what you like/dislike about him & his music, your favourite songs,… 🙂

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