I am not a longstanding Rihanna fan. Her initial pop hits came out when it was the last kind of music I wanted to listen to, though in recent years the occasional song has started to catch my attention. Cue ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ last summer and she had me.
So the build up to Anti was one that I, like many, was hotly anticipating, was this going to be a treasure trove of gems like ‘BBHMM’? No it isn’t, and so many have seen the album as anti-climatic on this alone. Though this makes me wonder about the title choice…
But let’s not jump to conclusions. Anti doesn’t have the blockbuster hits we were waiting for and it isn’t what we expected, but it is something entirely different. Rather than the big hits many of us are used to, only one single-worthy song appears on the album, the upbeat, not-your-typical-dance-tune ‘Work’. The song boasts a reggae-pop feel alongside Rhianna’s Barbadian patois, and even despite the big-name collaboration with Drake, feels more personal than her usual work.
This can be said for the whole album, with Consideration bringing a similar style and the hook-line ‘I’ve got to do thinks my own way darling’ but still asserting the confidence and sass of the Rihanna we all know when she tells us ‘let me cover your shit in glitter I can make it gold’.
The second track James Joint brings a chilled out, almost drug induced feel which echoes the title, and only lasting 1:12 seems like a strange experiment in a different style, and the lingering absence it leaves is haunting.
Other standout songs include the catchy Kiss It Better, the atmospheric Desperado which evokes the Old West and southern borders, and Needed me which combines her confident sass with a slower, more melodic form.
Overall this album isn’t the standout pinnacle of her career album that we were all waiting for. It is something much deeper, much more personal, with Rihanna evoking her roots and experimenting with her sound and that is far more important for both the industry and her career.
Image from Wikipedia.