Three long years has passed since badgal Riri released her last album Unapologetic in 2012. Following a slew of unrelated “releases” to fill the gaps in-between (none of which even made the cut), the pressure was on to make the comeback album that everyone had been waiting for—but was it really worth the wait?
At a glance, ANTI lacks the theme and shock value her previous albums had. It wasn’t studded with bubblegum pop hits like Good Girl Gone Bad, possessed the raunchy playfulness of Loud or the commercial marketability of Talk That Talk. However, Rihanna manages to stick to her roots and incorporate dancehall and the occasional patois, as she did with “Rude Boy” on her 2009 album Rated R—which is possibly one of the redeeming factors of ANTI.
From the brooding confessional “Needed Me”, the not-so-subtle “James Joint”, and trippy slurs of “Higher”, ANTI is a peek into Rihanna’s current state of mind, and the pressures of being who she is. ANTI also features interesting collaborations such as the dancehall anthem “Work” featuring Riri’s on-again-off-again lover Drake, and also has R&B soundcloud songstress SZA on “Consideration”.
It’s easy to understand why Rihanna chose “Work” as the album’s lead single, as it appears to be the only track on the album that was chart-worthy. Because every song is a little bit different from the other, ANTI’s lack of structure makes it sound like it’s unfinished. Everyone who listens to ANTI thinking it will be Rihanna’s biggest release to date might finish the entire thing feeling lost and maybe a little disappointed.
ANTI may be the most personal body of work Rihanna has made to date, not because it feels particularly intimate or sentimental, but because it seems like Rihanna couldn’t give any less of a fuck regarding its cohesion—an attitude that has become the cornerstone of how she projects herself in the media. But somehow it all works out because, well, she’s Rihanna.
It’s her world, and we’re all just living in it.
Tracks I Recommend: Needed Me, Woo, Kiss It Better