written by Carla Bynum
Since she first made her debut on the music scene in 2005, she has released, or re-released, an album nearly every year so it was a- surprise to fans across the world when she decided to take a break to focus on other ventures, such as her acting career. Following the release of Unapologetic in 2012, she starred in the 3d animated film “Home” alongside Jennifer Lopez, Jim Parsons, and Steve Martin as well as executive produced the soundtrack.
On January 28th, Rihanna fans scrambled to capture the highly anticipated album which was originally and “accidentally” released as an early treat via the Tidal streaming service. Soon after, the album was available to everyone.
The album fittingly starts with the song “Consideration” featuring singer SZA about how they like to push past industry standards and do things their own way. Rihanna is known for her nonchalant and “bad gal” persona so there’s no surprise that she wants to continue to follow her own path.
During an interview with V Magazine, Rihanna admitted that “James Joint” is her favorite interlude on the album and she has it on constant repeat. The song is named after one of her co-writers James Fauntleroy, who Rihanna has worked with quite frequently. The interlude correlates her love for marijuana with her love for the man in her life.
In December 2014, a preview of her song “Kiss it Better” was released via her Instagram page featuring guitarist Nuno Bettencourt. The song has a soulful Prince-like feel to it and has become a fan favorite. Rihanna is going through the emotions following a break up and finds she wants him back.
The statement “the best song wasn’t the single” is certainly true in the case of the album’s lead single “Work” featuring Drake. Rihanna and Drake have worked together in the past and always have a strong chemistry together. “Work” features a Caribbean feel and suggestive lyrics about how Rihanna is ready to get down in the bedroom. It’s hard not to move when this song plays and it is sure to keep the club moving, however, it is one of the weaker songs on the album.
Metaphorically, Rihanna is torn between whether she wants to run away with a “Desperado” or stay behind. She knows there’s nothing there for her but she doesn’t want to be alone and thinks she wants to go on the run with him.
Rihanna’s collaboration with her rumored lover Travis Scott has been in the talks for a while now and fans can finally hear it in the form of “Woo,” a song about misplaced emotions for an ex.
Rih isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind and “Needed Me” is a result of her boldness. She directed the song to an ex fling who she admits she enjoyed spending time with but it was never that serious for her. She never had feelings besides lust while her hookup was in love. In fact, she blatantly tells him how she feels with the line “fuck your white horse and your carriage.”
Continuing with the boldness, Rihanna details her desire for a night of rough sex on the interlude “Yeah, I Said It.”
“Same Ol’ Mistakes” is a cover of the song “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” written by Kevin Parker and performed by Tame Impala.
“Never Ending” follows the same melody of Dido’s song “Thank You” and features a light sound not expected from Rihanna. She sings about how she falls in love with someone but it feels strange to be in love again.
Listeners are introduced to a more vulnerable and sensitive side to Rih on “Love on the Brain.” The song has an old school 1950’s sound to it and is perhaps her most powerful vocal performance of the album. She feels like this particular relationship has put her through hell but she’s willing to do it because she has love on her brain.
“Higher” was first teased to fans in March 2015 via Rihanna’s Instagram page. In the brief interlude, she ironically appears apologetic to her lover about a fight they had previously but she is drunk of whiskey, alone, and it’s late at night and she wants to be with him.
The album ends perfectly with the song “Close to You,” a piano ballad similar in sound to her hit single “Stay” from Unapologetic. She is trying to deal with her feelings towards a love from her past. The lyrics to the song seem to reflect on her conflicting feelings towards her ex Chris Brown. They aren’t together anymore but she genuinely loves and cares for him.
The deluxe version of ANTI features three bonus tracks: “Goodnight Gotham,” “Pose,” and “Sex With Me.”
“Goodnight Gotham” is an interlude that solely consists of chopped up vocals from Florence and the Machine’s song “Only If For A Night.” The song served as the music behing the 2015 Christian Dior “Secret Garden 4” ad starring Rihanna.
A Rihanna album would be incomplete without a ratchet, p-popping song. “Pose” may be hidden in the deluxe version of the album but it is a song that Rih’s Navy will appreciate.
Rihanna brags about her sex game on the song “Sex With Me.” According to Rih, sex with her is amazing and she puts in a lot of work.
After much anticipation, it’s nice to see that Rihanna is back and she isn’t afraid to take risks with her music. The album is fittingly called ANTI because it doesn’t sound like what we are used to from the singer. She has made it known that she will break industry standards and she continues to do so on her eighth studio album.
Recommended Tracks: “Kiss it Better,” “Woo,” “Consideration,” “Needed Me,” “Love on the Brain”