Anti - Rihanna
By Laura Vale
Rihanna does not need an introduction. After almost four years the badass bitch of the pop world has come out with her 8th studio album. Prior to its release, she was still dominating the charts with songs such as "Bitch Better Have My Money" and "FourFiveSeconds". This album seems to have a richer side to it than others and is more self-reflective. While her badass attitude remains, there is also a more vulnerable and artistic side present than there was with 2012's Unapologetic.
Album artwork by Israeli-born artist Roy Nachum. These fine art pieces belong to Nachum's collection, titled "Blind", which "largely focuses on the concepts of inner and outer vision and the metaphor of “opening” viewers’ eyes". The album art depicts Rihanna as a child, formerly known as Robyn Fenty.
The album kicks off with "Consideration", a heavy drum based number in which Rihanna uses patois to bring it back to her roots; taking control from the get go, you're immediately made to respect and admire her queenship. "Kiss It Better", the third song on the LP has achieved great public success with its hazy, 70’s style vibe. Some would say that it sounds like music from a cheap 80’s B movie, however that’s up for you to decide. No matter what, she remains sexy, in control and powerful - a recurring theme. Leading single "Work" has been a massive success; As soon as you hear those infamous synths and bass in any club, twerk-off's are likely to ensue. The track pays homage to dance-hall beats and brings back her Caribbean roots. Although, her excessively jargonistic vocab, which has been mocked by many, shows Rihanna’s sureness in herself. This song cannot fail to make you dance and the beat behind it is perfect. Drake comes in with his cheesy singing and it brings it all together in a melange of perfect pop, hip hop, and dancehall.
The use of sampling in "Desperado" is dark and deep, and is produced extremely well. She has clearly departed from the sadness of Unapologetic to a braver, bolder Rihanna determined to combat the politics of everyday life. "Needed Me" provides the perfect break up song, but the 28 year-old bravely commands it. The chorus is powerful and catchy, with a beautifully sombre hook to carry you through. Thus, her solidity in herself is enticing. "Never Ending" is a personal favourite from this album. It is beautiful, raw, simple, and it finally feels like Rihanna is being 100% real with herself and audience alike. It has a totally different vibe to the rest of the album, using paired back vocals and acoustic guitar, which at points feels a little out of place but seems to delivers nonetheless.
"Love On The Brain" hits you with 60s soul that is captured so well. It's not something completely unexpected of the badass pop princess, but it is delivered excellently with her own twist that is hard not to love. Furthermore, the lyricism is superb and the production brings it all together to provide a perfect hit. The album finishes with "Close To You": a raspy, desperate, and longing song, it feels like some pain evidently remains even after this exploration of herself and her individual power, but there has been no real conclusion.
Anti is Rihanna's deepest, realest, and most self-explorative release yet. The pop has gone and in its place is something more artistic and daring. While she still remains as intimidating and sexy as ever, she is arguably more vulnerable than before. Nevertheless there is no stopping her, since her musical evolution just brings more and more success. This album is both a step forward for her career, but a step away from the conventional pop that she used to immerse herself in, which makes her next step in music all the more exciting.