It’s been nearly four years since pop fans have heard a complete body of work from Rihanna. After having four consecutive albums come out yearly from 2009-2012, Ri-Ri seemingly needed a break to try and reinvent herself in this new age of pop.
Being responsible from some of the biggest pop hits in the last decade, expectations are high. Her latest album, “Anti,” has a sound that differs from Rihanna’s prior work, leaning more towards the R&B side of the spectrum. It’s hard to find upbeat songs like “What’s My Name,” “Don’t Stop The Music,” or “We Found Love.” In fact, there isn’t really a club song anywhere on the album.
The sound in this album is dark and heavy, and it sets itself apart sonically from any of Rihanna’s prior seven albums. Furthermore, Rihanna hired today’s biggest names in music to help hone her music. Her team consisted of producers like DJ Mustard and Timbaland, to artists like Drake and The Weekend.
While people might be initially hesitant to Rihanna’s new direction, when one listens they’ll find a new sound that works great for Rihanna’s voice and persona.
The Drake-assisted lead single, “Work,” happens to be one of the catchiest and best songs on the album. The mid-tempo track has a bouncy beat that tells a story of a lustful couple that seek to reignite their love. Rihanna expressing how she wants something real, something deep.
She tells her lover that she believes in everything he does, that she’s always there for him.
Drake reassures her through his lyrics that he’s willing to put in work for her and that he’ll always choose her.
“Long distance, I need you/ When I see potential I just gotta see it through/ If you had a twin, I would still choose you,” Drake sings.
The Timbaland-produced slow jam “Yeah, I Said It” stands to be one of Rihanna’s best baby makin’ songs. With minimal drums, the song echoes and gives one chills. Her lyrics aren’t very explicit, but they’re seductive. It’s about two people that aren’t looking for more than just a hookup.
“Going slow and I want you to pop it/ And I think I kinda like ya/ Up against the wall, we don’t need a title,” she croons.
“Kiss It Better” is a sexy guitar-driven track that finds Rihanna pleading for her lover to come back. While they fight and argue, Rihanna wants to try to work it out. They need each other in order to be happy.
She sings, “So why argue? You yell, but you take me back/ Who cares when it feels like crack/ Boy, you always do it right.
The bass-heavy DJ-Mustard produced “Needed Me” shows us the raw and cocky Rihanna people love. This isn’t Rihanna on the track, it’s “Bad Girl Ri-Ri.” It’s about not falling for a good-for-nothing type of guy. Someone was trying to use her, but she didn’t fall for it.
With ferocity in her voice she sings, “You was just another n**ga on the hit list/ Trying to fix your inner issues with a bad bitch/ Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage?”
“Love On The Brain” is love ballad that has essences of doo-wop and that showcases Rihanna’s vocal range.
Like any body of work, “Anti” has its flaws. Some songs feel ill fit for Rihanna. The disappointing “Woo” sounds like she’s trying to recreate the Weeknd’s “The Hills.” It’s an auto-tuned mess. “James Joint” feels like a throwaway track and “Higher” is corny track where Rihanna’s voice actually hurts one’s ears.
While not perfect, Rihanna’s album is something listeners should check it out. It shows her growth as an artist and her pursuit to take chances with her music. If this album proves one thing, it’s that you better have her money.