The queen Rih dropped her long awaited Anti album out this past week, and unexpectedly to me the reviews were mixed. You had those reviewers who absolutely hated it, those who thought it was alright, and those who loved it.
Again, I wasn’t surprised.
I believe part of the mixed reviews came from the fact that people expected this to be an incredibly awesome album after having been hyped up for it for about two years now. It was kind of like “Rihanna’s album is coming soon just wait for it” was a mantra within the music industry for some time. But for those individuals who managed to stay away from the media hype about the album, they were probably just expecting another “Rihanna” album.
The stereo-typical Rihanna album that the world was probably expecting was not something from her “Pon de Replay” days but probably closer to her “Good Girl Gone Bad Days” or her “Talk that Talk” era. The Rihanna that the world has come to know is the queen of pop, the queen of simple and catchy melodies and lyrics with no girth; no substance. The world expected bad gal, partymate Rihanna and they didn’t get that.
Obviously with an album title which means “against” they weren’t going to get that. Anti is the album that goes against everything that Rihanna is known for. Well, maybe not everything. There’s still that edge, that unforgiving laziness, and that sassy marijuana inhaling island girl that we’ve all come to love. But Anti teases us to another side of Rihanna.
I say tease because that’s what Anti felt like. This album feels like a tease as most of the songs feel like they aren’t complete. What exactly are they missing? I’m not entirely sure. My guess though is that they’re missing the fullness of Rihanna’s devotion. Rihanna tries to give us depth in her lyrics and breakaway from the common R&B and pop instrumentals that we are use to but I get the since that’s she’s a bit too high to fully focus and go deeper.
Despite this lack of completion that I felt while listening to Anti- I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I might even say that this is her best album so far.
Actually, yes I’ll go on and say it.
Anti is Rihanna’s best album so far.
Those reviewers who rated her album poorly would disagree with me and say that there are no hits in this album. I would agree with them and say, yes there aren’t any hits in this album. I do understand that just because an album might not be radio friendly it doesn’t automatically make it a great work of artistry. I’m also not saying that Anti achieved some great artistic feat. What I am saying is that this is a daring album worthy of at at least a B- regardless of if it was Rihanna’s album or some indie artist’s album.
What I immediately liked from this album is that it doesn’t fully follow any of the trends that’s been going through the radio waves this year. It’s not 100% EDM. It’s not 100% trap. It’s not 100% rock. It’s not 100% synth-pop. It’s not 100% R&B. I don’t always hear that lazy rap singing that Future does often nor do I hear that new wave of psychedelic R&B funk that artists like the Weeknd have crafted. I hear our Rihanna and I hear Rihanna’s Rihanna. As her lyrics describe, this Anti-album is all about Rihanna trying new things artistically.
Anti opens up with “Consideration” featuring SZA. It’s this gritty island flavored electronic R&B splash that initiates the plan for this album: a calm breakaway from the mundane. Rihanna doesn’t want to necessarily go back to her island roots as you would expect from the dancehall infused “Work” ft. Drake, but what she wants to do is do what she wants to do without considering anyone else’s opinion.
Then the album continues with more breakaways. I especially enjoyed the second half when she goes into more 60s, doo-wop mood. What I enjoyed was the juxtaposition of the simple doo-wop with her powerful, raspy cries for solace. Basically I just enjoy emotional Rih because that’s when her vocals really shine. Songs like “Love on the Brain” and “Higher” really take the raw emotion that she had in “Diamonds” to full fruition.
Then there’s the Tame Impala cover “Same Old Mistakes” which to me basically screams out Rihanna’s deeper rock and roll soul. Although some might think it plays a bit too long I think it’s just right. It reminds us that Rihanna is not limited to the girl that we try to make her to be. She’s full of surprises and, as her ever evolving fashion also shows, she’s a girl of many personalities, but at the end of the day Rihanna is just wants to vibe out and share her heart. No song really has the same sound. This can be a bad thing as at time it makes the album sound like you overdosed on salt. Which just goes to show another part of Rihanna.
Rihanna is probably the only artist that can not hit the mark but still manage to hit the mark. I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t even think Beyonce can do such a thing. Beyonce’s attempts at experimenting with music are still safe as if she’s skydiving with the instructor on top of her. Meanwhile, as this album shows, Rihanna is skydiving on her own with a parachute full of holes in the middle of a storm but landing safely,(with edges still on fleek), on a golden runway.
I remember when the album first dropped I scrolled past an article with a title that read something like “Is Rihanna’s album an attempt at a concept album?” I don’t know what the article said, I didn’t read it, but I’ll add in my answer to that question: No, Anti is not an attempt at a concept album because this would imply that Rihanna is still trying to put on an image like she did the last 7 albums. The last 7 albums were concept albums. They had clear intentions: to make hits and make money. They created an abstract idea of who Rihanna is. In Anti Rihanna is attempting to breakaway from concepts and present herself to us, and that self is a bit more vulnerable and chill than we’re used to.
Some might describe this as Rihanna’s “stoner” album. I’d call this Rihanna’s “Rihanna” album.