Since 2012, the Navy has been fighting for an eighth album from the superstar, Rihanna. Since 2012 though, Rihanna has released a few singles such as ‘American Oxygen’, ‘FourFiveSeconds’, and ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ which all found a bit of success, but never topped any of her past hits. Surprisingly though, on January 28th of 2016, the wait for an album ended, and ‘ANTi’ was released. The eighth studio album features thirteen fresh tracks, each different from the next. With some soul mixed in with dancehall and back to the R&B that Rihanna has always had, we learn a new side of Rihanna on this record with her sound. But does it all work? For today on Pop Girl Week, join me as I venture through ‘ANTi’.

The first glimpse of the record, which was released on the same date, was titled ‘Work’ and it went on to be one of Rihanna’s largest hits to date. The track doesn’t sound like anything crazy new for Rihanna, and the repetition in the chorus isn’t anything I’d listen to again. The addition of Drake is expected to be honest as they have worked together in the past, but I am not against his verse. I am not a fan of the track itself, but it is a great choice as the lead, and I understand why it did so well. I just don’t feel it really encases this record in a positive way because of how stellar and diverse other tracks can be. It goes from dancehall, to R&B, and some beautiful ballads that really show off Rihanna’s crazy vocal talent. Not to mention, the lyrics were mainly all written by Rihanna herself, and they are well done.

One of my personal favourites from the record has to be ‘Consideration’, which is a dub inspired track, and features SZA. The track sonically is very strong, and their vocals match very well. “I got to do things my own way now,” Rihanna sings on the song as it talks about her move from her labels, fearless and confident. Another highlight is ‘Desperado’, which is once again such a home run of a track. The album also has its bangers, such as ‘Kiss It Better’ and ‘Needed Me’, which both received their (very different, ahem) single treatments. The tracks throw it back to her R&B roots, but the fun production puts it over the top. I love where both tracks go, and they are both highlights. One of the most surprising track to see was ‘Same Ol’ Mistakes’ which is a cover of Tame Impala. The track is hypnotic and beautiful and it was a great choice to include it on the record.

Overall, this record is so fresh for Rihanna, and is something I’ve been waiting for from her for quite a while. She was raw and honest and most aspects of this album are very well executed, as 10/10s just come back to back. Although some others do feel a little unneeded, the amount of work that went into creating this record is easily noticeable, and all around as one body of work, it is so well done. Most importantly, with “ANTi”, Rihanna transforms her name from a “pop girl” that concentrates on getting single hits, into her phase as an album artist, detailing all her emotions and thoughts into one full record. And looking back on this album more than a year after its release, turns out she’s managed to become both at once.

Essentials: Consideration, Desperado, Kiss It Better, Love On The Brain

8.4 out of 10 stars (8.4 / 10)