After over a year of anticipation, Rihanna has released her eighth studio album, ANTI. The album was released exclusively on Tidal on Wednesday, January 27th. Now, the 13-track album has a deluxe edition with 3 bonus tracks. We at Music & Other Drugs could not wait to get our hands and ears on this project. As we have taken much time sitting with the record, we now have our own opinions about Rihanna’s latest work of art.
Anti: [a prefix meaning “against.” or “opposite of”]
One thing is clear, Rihanna is in a different space from where she left us in 2012, with the release of her 7th studio album Unapologetic. The singer has a career that spans over a decade with multiple #1 singles, dozens of collaborations, and has become a household name. It is apparent that over the years, Rihanna has yearned for more, and something different. This new record, ANTI proves just that. It hasn’t been since her 4th studio album, Rated R, that we have seen Rihanna take such a creative leap with her sound. Rihanna created sounds through productions and vocals that many would not expect from her, but it works.
The album opens with “Consideration” featuring a surprise collaboration from SZA. From the title alone, we gathered that Rihanna wants us to take a little more consideration on her trying to create a perfect album. From all the comments and words on social media, we can understand the pressure that an artist of her caliber goes through to produce new music for fans.
“I got to do things my own way darling, will you ever let me? Will you ever respect me? No”
One track that we have all been anticipating since it was teased back in 2014, was the Glass John written track “Kiss It Better”. The song is an Prince 80’s guitar driven track, where Rihanna wants the person to forget their pride and wants to know what they are willing to do, to get it back. This will no doubt be a single from the album, and we are sure it will be a crowd pleaser when she goes on her ANTI World Tour.
Rihanna takes a daring approach with tracks like “Desperado,” which has a Quentin Tarantino Western feel. Rihanna also incorporates a Travis Scott assisted track, “Woo.” The songs production and Rihanna’s megaphone-like vocals roar loudly on the sinister track.
From the looks of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a host of other mediums, “Needed Me” is a fan favorite. The lyrics: “Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage…Fuck your white horse and a carriage” have been seen quoted all over. The DJ Mustard produced track is unlike his other productions. We are used to hearing upbeat cali-esque “snap” vibes from the producer, but this track has a slowed-down adult sound. We at MAOD love this track; it feels like an empowerment record. While at first listen, you may think this track is directed at a particular person, we think this track is Rihanna talking about her power, and how she understands her own worth.
Rihanna surprised many on ANTI with “Same Ol’ Mistakes.” The track is a cover of “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” from Tame Impala’s 2015 album, Currents. The captivating record put us in a trance at first listen.
“Feel like a brand new person (But you make the same old mistakes)”
After “Same Ol’ Mistakes,” the album takes another turn. On tracks like “Never Ending,” “Love on The Brain,” and “Close To You,” that showcase Rihanna’s vocal growth and musicality. Rihanna’s connection to her ballads is inevitable, and with tracks like “Love on The Brain,” you can tell that Rihanna loves stretching her vocals to new heights.
The shorter songs on the album, “James Joint,” Yeah, I Said It,” and “Higher” our some of our favorite tracks from ANTI. Rihanna’s vocals on “Higher” are out of this world. Rihanna’s blues-inspired track has some of Rihanna’s best vocals on the album, and we wish it were longer. Rihanna also brings out the more sensual side in “Yeah, I Said It,” which gives us 90’s r&b Adina Howard vibes.
What ANTI proves is that you do not need a major artist or producer to executive produce your album. Rihanna has found her voice, from within, and is screaming out loud. Each track tells a delicate and intentional tale of Rihanna’s past experiences as well as an introspective look into the journey of her life. The songs that Rihanna placed on the album took courage, they took bravery, they took going against the grain, being “Anti.” Bodies of work like this, are pieces of art, and should be treated as such. Art is meant to be questioned, it is meant to be discussed, and it should challenge and create a moment in time to push the culture forward. Rihanna is preparing to embark on her Anti World Tour and we at Music & Other Drugs will be at the Barclay’s show on March 27th. We are excited to see Rihanna’s new direction, and how she will create a show around the headspace that she is in now. Purchase the Deluxe Edition of ANTI on iTunes.