Four years, and seven albums later, Rihanna’s widely anticipated eighth studio album was leaked unexpectedly on January 27th. Then later, officially released for free on Tidal. A couple weeks following the release the album went platinum, and the Barbadian singer became the first artist in RIAA gold and platinum history to earn 100 million song awards. Rihanna really made a major debut into 2016 with ANTI.
As a fan, I have every right to brag on one of my favorite artists of all time. I even have the right to just, I don’t know, type the word “Work” for about a page and half without once talking about her talent or anything else. However, my rights and my editor’s right to banish my writings to a pit hole of “What the heck is this trash?” are two really different things that aren’t equally important.
After listening to “Work” for a total of about a million times, you might expect me to take my rights and say screw my editor’s common sense. To disprove your expectations, I want to talk about how awesome it is hearing SZA on the track that starts ANTI off. SZA and Rihanna’s voices complement each other very well, so much that when the song goes into the chorus; you might miss that it is no longer Rihanna singing. That melodic voice is indeed SZA belting it out over a pop beat.
Track two, “James Joint”, should’ve been longer. I started having “Birthday Cake” flashbacks from Talk That Talk when I realized that the song was only one minute and twelve seconds long. It’s only an interlude which, according to genius.com, is named after James Fauntleroy who happens to be one of her co-writers. The song is pretty dope and it provides a different vibe than what we’re used to from Rihanna. A second interlude, “Goodnight Gotham”, comes later towards the end.
“Desperado”, “Woo”, and “Needed Me” all channel that courageously honest and confident Rihanna that we’ve grown to love. She sings about love and relationships a lot. Most of the albums subject matter is that, but what pop artist doesn’t do this? Rihanna, however, has a unique and sometimes twisted way of doing it. If there’s such a thing as dark pop, I would totally draft some of Rihanna’s music into that category. “Woo” would be top pick for it from the album. Produced by Hit Boy and Kuk Harrell, “Woo” has Rihanna and Travis Scott written all over it. The two paired up creating a track that instantly captures your attention with it’s rocker feel.
“Kiss it Better”, “Yeah, I Said It”, and “Sex with Me” ooze sexual prowess. Our favorite bad gyal knows how to make a song sexy, and she’s not bashful about it. “Kiss it Better” is the earn-me-back track, “Yeah, I Said It” is the promiscuous anthem, and “Sex with Me” is the epitome of feeling myself music. Literally and figuratively. Each song set a different tone, while still addressing the same thing. Let us not forget her radio hit “Work”, which has penetrated all of our minds with it’s catchy lyrics. She never disappoints with her dancehall-like singles, even if she receives ridiculous criticism for her natural accent.
“Never Ending”, “Love On the Brain”, “Higher”, and “Close to You” gives us a more intimate and vulnerable perspective of the songstress. I must admit, I originally did not care for “Higher”. However, after considering that every great rock star ever has scream-sang in their music just like that, Rihanna deserves to be able to rock out at the top of her lungs too. Agree to disagree, but this review is going nowhere near the “What the heck is this trash?” pit hole of darkness.
“Pose” is literally my least favorite song on the album. Truthfully, I believe ANTI could have done without it. The best song on the album to me is “Same Ol’ Mistakes”. This is how you cover a song people! Rihanna’s cover is just as amazing as the original song, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”, by Tame Impala from their album Currents. The message fits her, the sound fits her, and the fact that this song found it’s way to her and was chosen for the album says a lot about her evolution as an artist.
Rihanna has garnered many nay-sayers along the way of her path to success. People who criticize her personal life, her image, her talents, and her ability to create longevity within her career. I’m here to say pay attention to the work, and pay attention to the numbers because neither of them lie. At this point in her career I feel that Rihanna is completely over proving herself to the people who don’t or haven’t believed in her abilities as an artist. ANTI is a huge middle finger to all of that negative energy, and a major thank you to her fans and supporters everywhere. If you haven’t already, listen to ANTI. It’s worth every minute of listening time.