Album Review: Anti by Rihanna

The Queen is back! On Jan. 28, Rihanna finally released her highly anticipated album ANTI, which was free to stream for 24 hours after the lead single “Work” was released a day prior.

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Four years have passed since her last album Unapologetic came out, and fans were patiently (and in some cases impatiently) awaiting her long-promised eighth album.

In January of 2015, Rihanna came out with the first supposed single, “FourFiveSeconds”, from her then untitled album, a result of a collaboration with Kanye West and Paul McCartney. The stripped down song was a great tease for fans of what was to come from #R8 – the hashtag that Rihanna had been tweeting for months prior.

Then, just four months later, she released the second supposed single from R8, “Bitch Better Have My Money” which signaled a large change from the pop/EDM tones of Unapologetic. Fans ate it up, and eventually the single went platinum. A few weeks later, she released the less appraised “American Oxygen” on the streaming site Tidal and from there went silent. Although well received, these singles were ultimately left out of ANTI’s final track listing.

Fans were scrambling to figure out why Rihanna had stopped producing music and no notifications of a release were anywhere to be found. Many worried that her label change from Def Jam to Roc Nation was a catalyst in this.

But worry no more Navy, your Queen’s new album is finally here.

In just 24 hours, ANTI was certified platinum, and it’s easy to see why. This is some of Rihanna’s best work in recent years. Her previous album Unapologetic had strong electronic tones and was clearly her way of trying to stay relevant in the changing music scene. While singles “Diamonds” and “Stay” were obvious formulaic Top 40 anthems, the remainder of her album lacked the genuine connection usually felt between Rihanna and her music, aside from a few songs. ANTI reestablishes that connection, and it is evident in her music and voice that she feels passionate about the new music she has produced.

Another change ANTI makes from previous albums is the differentiating track lengths throughout (the shortest being 1:12 and the longest being 6:37). The album features a number of short interludes, which are just as strong and powerful as the longer, more extended tracks. In fact, some of the strongest tracks on her album are the shorter ones like “Higher”, “Consideration”, and “Goodnight Gotham” (none of these songs are over two minutes long).

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ANTI is largely reminiscent of Rihanna’s fourth studio album Rated R; both feature hard experimental sounds between a mix of heavy power ballads. The difference with ANTI, however, is that the slower songs still continue to experiment with digital and instrumental sound in the background. A good example of this would be the track “Kiss It Better”, which produces a sound similar to the digitally-enhanced coos of fellow artist Prince.

The lead single from the album, “Work” featuring Drake, is also a definite crowd pleaser. Both Drake and Rihanna have continually produced phenomenal work together on previous occasions and this track is no exception. It is eerily reminiscent to the sound Rihanna produced on her first album Music of the Sun, and has strong island vibes. Her whiny, slurred voice is a highlight on the track. The harmonies shared between the pair are also a high point in the song.

ANTI is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish, and will remind listeners why Rihanna is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Fans who braved the four-year wait for her new music will be greatly rewarded with ANTI.

Must listen tracks include “Desperado”, “Love on the Brain”, “Higher” and “Never Ending”.

- Laura Sebben

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