There’s a dreaded thing that can happen to works of art that are long overdue. The eagerness and excitement felt by the artist’s audience can, during a slow-burning wait, transform into restlessness and doubt. The abstract concept of “hype”, is not merely an escalating incline that seems to have no end, but a large wave that overtime, can go back down into nothingness from leaving fans hungry for too long a time. Rihanna’s 8th album, “ANTI”, has shown that her delayed hesitated uniquely-timed delivery has not only exceeded the original hype, but cements her as an artist of this generation for its ability to stay within the scope of Rihanna’s unique style.
After numerous delays, rumors, and three singles (none of which are on the album), ANTI finally released this past Friday for exclusive streaming on Tidal (with mass distribution coming next week). The first three tracks (especially “Consideration”), set a well-defined feel for an album that will remind listeners that Rihanna is going to do things exactly the way she wants to do them, whether people like it or not. ANTI’s introduction captures the energy she’s projected publicly over the past few years and will keep you enwrapped in her character throughout the rest of large, 16-song project, as it goes through well-crafted highs and lows. This idea of varying levels of energy section-by-section is a quality much too forgotten in today’s market dominated by radio singles, and is certainly a welcomed feeling.
In terms of tone and subject matter, ANTI defines the musician who created it and nothing more; being a major pro with an understandable con. The way Rihanna aggressively sings about sex in the Timbaland produced track, “Yeah I Said It”, or how she pays dues to her West Indian roots in the dancehall love song “Work” (featuring Drake), all stays defined in Rihanna, herself. There’s no larger picture that lets us hold up some kind of imaginary mirror to the face of music, telling us where music is going, or what that says about society. But if ANTI tried to do that, would it really project the, “I do me and nothing else” persona Rihanna fans have come to treasure her for? Not a chance in hell.
ANTI isn’t an album that will define the current generation, but rather, is a dynamically introspective piece defining a top artist of the current generation. Making it pretty damn valuable in its own right.
Royal Blue Rating: 4.5/5