Well it’s here: Rihanna’s highly-anticipated eighth studio album, “Anti” was finally released after almost three years of hard work and a lot of patience. Rihanna has never had such a wide gap between album releases which scared fans into thinking that it was just another social media hoax. Once she made the announcement on Twitter and on Saturday Night Live about the official release date, the ANTIcipation (Hah!) was almost unbearable. On January 28th, it was released to the public on Tidal, but was just recently made available to the rest of the public. The twelve-track record contains luxuriously unique tunes that compliment each other very well, and I have some specific thoughts on each track.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
- Consideration (feat. SZA)
This song is automatically an attention grabber that starts the album on a strong foot. It talks about how Rihanna feels that as an artist, she should have the liberty to do what she chooses with her work, saying: “I got to do things my own way darling, will you ever let me, will you ever respect me? No.” It’s heavy percussion alongside the combination of Rihanna’s strong notes and SZA’s brassy vocals create a harmonious yet edgy sound that sets the tone for Anti perfectly.
- James Joint
“James Joint” is 1-minute interlude that speaks about the risky behavior of between two rebellious spirits in love. It’s keyboard melody set a very 90’s sort of vibe which paints an almost angsty picture of the story being told in the short song. It has a sound that is almost reminiscent of Madonna both musically and lyrically. Rihanna even released this statement about the track after its release in April of 2015: “Dude, I’m in love with my interludes. This one called ‘James Joint’ is on constant repeat.” We feel you, Rih!
- Kiss It Better
“Kiss it Better” is a slower R&B track introduced with a gritty guitar riff followed by the catchy hook: “Kiss it, kiss it better baby”, begging a former lover to consider coming back to her. It’s electric feel generates a silvery and soulful sound while also creating an almost 80’s Prince-esque kind of style.
- Work (ft. Drake)
This upbeat number became the album’s first single and reached incredible commercial success. “Work” is a dancehall track recorded in Rihanna’s Barbadian patois, the language of which has confused some listeners. Many fans, however, deem this a favorite because of its island feel and also the blend of Rihanna and Drake’s vocals. It’s personally one of my favorites.
This track is displays a message similar to James Joint, but focuses more on the aspect of running away from the concept of love. This song carries a bit of a heavier bass and portrays a darker sound than the previous ones which really sets the scene that Rihanna is telling. She belts: “If you want, we can be runaways, running from any sight of love.” Like many other tracks, this one definitely shows off Rihanna’s versatility and creativity when it comes to songwriting and producing, as well as singing because of her ability to tell a story while remaining true to the song.
- Woo (ft. Travis Scott)
Woo is one of the more unique songs on “Anti”, just because of the vibe it brings and also because of its tone. This is a diss track that speaks of the mistakes of a previous significant other and how whoever came after her will never compare. And how could they? It’s Rihanna we’re talking about.
- Needed Me
This song takes a bit of a queue from the previous one, also being a message to a former partner of how foolish he was to let her go. Its modern and trap aura comes from the track’s producer Dj Mustard who is one of the hottest music minds in the business right now. This is also another popular tune because of its radio friendliness but also because of how relatable the message is. Admit it, we all have one ex who always seems to downgrade in every relationship after you.
- Yeah, I Said it
“Yeah, I Said it” gives a very sultry vibe to the album, which we all know Rihanna does oh-so well. It’s heavily percussed but is also one of the slower tracks so it creates sensual sound musically as well as lyrically. This is also somewhat of a “mini-song” only being a bit over two minutes long.
- Same ‘Ol Mistakes
Does this song sound familiar? If it does, no Rihanna didn’t steal it, it’s actually a cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjWs-lVa8Oc) As rare and somewhat strange covers are on albums, she did this one great justice. This track is opened with a short instrumental including keyboard and the synthesized sounds of the MIDI Controller that has become increasingly popular in past years by artists such as Kimbra and FKA Twigs. This song also pulls some inspiration from 80’s music but brings a more futuristic and upbeat feel. I absolutely love this song and think that Rihanna’s deep and soulful vocals add something magical to this track.
- Never Ending
“Never Ending” is one of the only indie songs on the album. It’s a bit barer and more authentic than the others, only having her light vocals accompanied by a acoustic guitar that paints a very rustic and natural picture for the listener. This tells the tale of her treacherous journey of falling back in love after a difficult breakup that left her scarred.
- Love on the Brain
“And babe I’m fist-fighting with fire just to get close to you. Can we burn something babe?”; such gripping lyrics, performed by an even more gripping voice and you can tell that Rihanna really put her all into this track. It pleasantly waltzes in as a soulful and mid-century ballad about her deep love for someone that consumes her every thought. Her deliverance of the vintage sound created by a strong bass and even stronger strings is unmatched and compliments its smoothness with her incredible ability to create a very raspy one as well.
“Higher” is another one of the shorter songs that stunningly furnish this already polished album. It glorifies the aftermath of a destroyed relationship and Rihanna’s drunken pleas for that person back. You can tell that she almost went out of her strong alto range when belting those notes during the chorus. Her cracking voice adds an element of raw emotion that really completes this track.
- Close to You
We’ve made it to the end of the album! This song is a deep and somewhat enigmatic tune. This R&B meets ballad compliments Rihanna’s powerful vocals very well as she speaks of a love that she lost. The sweet lyrics: “Nothing but a tear, that’s all for breakfast, watching you pretend you’re unaffected” paired with the soft piano make for a smooth track contrasting sweetness with pain; a great way to end an amazing project.
So there you have it folks, “Anti”, the album that the Rihanna “Navy” (her fan base) has been waiting for. Now to address the question on everyone’s minds: Was it worth it? The answer I have to give is a whopping ‘yes’. Each song is stunningly uniquene and Rihanna daringly chose to include components of different genres to create one amazing final result. This project is one that you wouldn’t expect from Rihanna because it doesn’t showcase her typical sound. Rather, it displays her musical talent and versatility that I am absolutely loving and highly recommend even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a Ri-Ri fan.