​Why it’s okay that Rih did ANTI her own way, darlin’!

RihannaANTI2.pngWhat happens when the goose who lays the golden eggs doesn’t want to lay them anymore? You keep their next album in limbo, of course, and such has been the case for pop’s “it” girl Rihanna. Up until January 28th 2016, BadGalRiri hadn’t released a new album since 2012’s Unapologetic, and we went three Novembers without a new bop-fuelled collection from her. ANTI has been in the works since late 2014, and due to lack of info was only known by fans as “R8” during its conception (this code name has since been used as a label for all upcoming albums from pop stars – what kind of impacT?). ANTI‘s road to release since then has been one hot mess, to the point where we thought she was gonna Original Doll us.

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Low and behold, the elusive ANTI unexpectedly dropped after three singles were paid dust buzz tracks, a frenzy of release delays and subsequent meltdowns from the Navy. It leaked on TIDAL before being officially unveiled less than an hour later to critical acclaim, surpassing 13 million streams in one day. Coincidentally (or maybe not?) the roll out for ANTI was mysterious, cryptic and, at several times, confusing. Why scrap the universally acclaimed HIT “FourFiveSeconds”, and cult club banger “Bitch Better Have My Money”? The roll out harmoniously matched the music. You see, this is an album polarizing the GP and shunning her previous persona as the cookie cutter pop girl. Essentially, it is her Erotica. Yet unlike Madonna, Rih is not using any of her undeniable sex appeal to sell this record. It’s a pure #MusicNotTheBling experience, evidenced by the 1 million prepaid downloads she gave away (which were all redeemed within a day and controversially led to an RIAA Platinum certification). There are no “Cheap Thrills” here, because she doesn’t care about hits this time; the focus is on making sure that you recognize her as a credible artist.

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Laden with trippy beats, introspective lyrics and synths you’d have to dig really deep for in a synth library, ANTI lived up to the unfathomable hype surrounding it. The opening track, “Consideration”, instantly pulls you in with that deep bass and glitchy 5 Years inspired beat. But just who is Rih shading in those lyrics? Is it her label, who have consistently hooked her up with the biggest hit makers to deliver certified money making bops? Or maybe the GP, who largely shunned the anti-mainstream singles preceding the anything but smooth release of the superstar’s latest LP. When she says she’ll “cover your shit in glitter” because she can “make it gold”, it feels like she’s dismissing those golden shits that made her the star she is today. But the line adds legitimacy to ANTI, reinforcing why she couldn’t give this album any other title. Rihanna simply doesn’t want to be that girl who covers your shit in glitter anymore. Leading the album with “Work” makes that fact as crystal clear as the album’s top-notch engineering, as does the rest of the radio-unfriendly bops populating the collection. This is Rihanna without the obvious radio hits. This is Riheally her. But only time will tell if the public can accept her as she is.
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