Rihanna gives view from the top

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By Rebekah Todd

 

The beat drops and in walks a giant. Her royal highness begins to sing with the echoes of her kingdom, a glimmer on the distant horizon. There is a tinge of sadness in her voice. It is almost immediate that listeners understand that their giant is a broken one. Heavy lies the crown — the idea is made quite apparent in the cover art depicting a small and swollen bellied child, eyes covered by a crown too heavy and too large for its still-growing head.

“Anti,” Rihanna’s eighth studio album, was released three years after her chart topping “Unapologetic” in 2012, the longest wait fans have ever had to endure from their herb-puffing Bajan princess. The release had fans in a state of confusion and at times even made it seem like the record label didn’t have a clue. With talk about how wonderful the album would be, fans began to lose patience with three years of waiting time. 

A few weeks before the release date, the album was questionably “leaked” to sites for a free download. The chaos seemed a little staged — maybe a poke at the idea of being “Anti”-music business. Either way, Rihanna laced the album with slow, soft tracks and vulnerable lyrics of how hard it is to be a millionaire with everything at your fingertips and rich men continuously wanting to wife her up. There is a moment of confusion where the album twists into a doo-wop two-step soul vibe. The only problem is, they forgot to get a soul singer. Instead we have Rihanna, with her raspy throat and one octave vocal range from too much smoke inhalation, trying to make a dime off of the popular Muscle Shoals sound.

It would seem that Rihanna has caught the cold of the “serious artist” as she takes her album art even further and possibly too far. Viewers are quickly transported from a well-balanced piece, fit for a fine art gallery, to a piece that the art world would gladly tear apart in the modern-day critique. Behind the red paint are several lines of braille that contain a few phrases so painfully kitchy that the blind might groan in disgust: “I sometimes fear that I am misunderstood,” it opens, before suggesting that “what I chose to say is of so much substance that people won’t understand the depth of my message,” a laughable statement for an album with lines such as, “She may be the queen of hearts, but I’m gonna be the queen of your body parts” — incredibly deep.

One thing is for sure, Rihanna is over it: The same old, tired men trying to put a ring on it. A constant thread in the playlist, she makes sure whoever she wanted to hear the message will catch it more than once. This lady means business. She doesn’t have time for games and she knows what she wants. “I want you to get up inside it — homicide it.” She croons over the fresh Timbaland beat. Furthering the thought, she later reminds men that she never meant for their feelings to get involved: “Didn’t I tell you I was a savage?” she unapologetically stresses over beats produced by DJ Mustard.

Her most endearing characteristic, this island girl does not give a f--k what anyone thinks about her. “Anti” gives listeners a new insight to our chart-hopping princess. She slowly begins to remove the stones from her carefully built wall to allow fans to take a peek at what it might be like to be at the highest point one can achieve in the music world. It would seem that the hardest part about teetering at the top is staying put. Rihanna has done so in a way that may appear effortless, as she managed to spend almost an entire decade at the top of the singles chart. Overall, this glitter queen has achieved the task of letting fans peer into her vulnerable side to see something a little more real. 

 

“Anti,” is available at most streaming sites including www.rihannanow.com

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