20 Best R&B Albums of 2016

Frank Ocean, Solange, Alicia Keys and more

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Usher, 'Hard II Love'
20
17/20

17. Usher, 'Hard II Love'

Usher's last album, 2012's Looking 4 Myself, was a bizarre and sometimes rewarding grab bag of a record that jumped from festival stage EDM to minimalist Timbaland homages to sock-hop pop. It was a conceptually uncertain statement, but it had its charms if you were willing to dig. Hard II Love, its follow up, swerves hard in the other direction: Its 14 songs are a cohesive block of glacial R&B. But it too has its standouts, like "Tell Me," which cascades like a waterfall. The best is "Bump," a The-Dream and Tricky Stewart production that cannily slows booty bass down to this album's syrupy tempo. J.S.

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