Seven albums in seven years. In between the partying and constant touring, how does she do it? The Barbadian beauty is back with her most dauntless album yet, aptly titled Unapologetic.
Unexpectedly, you will hear a very mature and very vulnerable Rihanna this time around. The same badass is still present but it becomes clear, that her more sensitive and confused side is the prominent one.
Unapologetic, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 features fewer songs about sex or finding love and more about the love she lost.
The first half begins and oozes with her undeniable energy and sex appeal. Phresh Off The Runway, Numb ft. Eminem, Right Now and Jump (which samples Ginuwine’s ’96 hit, Pony) are a few of the party anthems with heavy bass, dubstep influence and suggestive lyrics. While the second half tends to lean more towards her painful past.
Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary is an obvious decree of the pain she suffered during that infamous event involving her estranged first love, Chris Brown. “Who knew the course of this one drive, injured us so fatally?” she asks. The 24-year-old pop star, who was assaulted by her then boyfriend leaving the Grammy’s in 2009, described herself to Oprah as being more concerned for Brown than herself during the break up. Three years later, we find her to be much frank about the situation in her lyrics. A minute later into the track she expresses her desire to change for Jesus and Mother Mary, “but I’m from the left side of an island. I never thought this many people would ever know my name.” Confusingly surprised at the honesty, “As long as we got each other…. I’m prepared to die in the moment.”
Ambivalent towards lyrics like, “usually I’m the one that they cry for, but this man he’s the one that I’d die for”, sung in a chill, reggae sounding No Love Allowed, are frightening to hear her express, but honest enough to respect, maybe?
Of course this album has in turn opened the ongoing case of her unhealthy relationship with Brown. In addition to Instagram pictures and tweets we can assume the two are back on. As if the social media campaign weren’t enough, Ms. Fenty’s track, Nobody’s Business, has garnered much attention: a catchy pop tune, influenced by Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel, featuring Chris Brown. While it has seen some radio play, her next official single following Diamonds (an homage to her late Grandmother) will be Stay. Nobody’s Business is the second track Brown has been featured on since the assault. The first time (Cake Remix – Talk That Talk) was controversial, now it may just be exploitative, only time will tell.
Under constant scrutiny from the media and critics alike for her lack of being an appropriate role model, decisions in her love life and even in her fashion, Unapologetic is a declaration. Rihanna has shown to be one of the most influential women of our generation, whether you agree with her decisions or not she wont apologize for them.
It is very obvious she is not only exploring her sound but also her emotions. The entire album is extremely raw in every way. And maybe I love Rihanna because my standards are a tad-bit low. Her life has become more of a performance than her actual music. I don’t necessarily expect a masterpiece from her, just a good time. Though this time around, she has managed to pull out something deeper and different.
The Verdict: The wide array of emotions she shares tends to make for a lack of consistency but leaves a track for every occasion. We get to witness some growth but lets be honest, releasing 7 albums in 7 years will leave a few intricacies missing — which should be a given.
Date released: November 19
Label: The Island Def Jam Music Group
Collaborators: The-Dream, David Guetta, Chase & Status, StarGate, Mike Will Made-It, and Labrinth