Review | Rihanna – ANTI

On ANTI, you get all the phases of Rihanna – The Loving, The Cocky, and The Turned Up.

ANTI is the long-awaited eighth studio album from Rihanna. With each album, Rihanna finds new ways and methods to elevate her music, and it shows on ANTI. There’s a lot of experimented material to listen to on this 13-track album.

What may come as a shock to some, ANTI does NOT feature the previous released singles, FourFiveSeconds featuring Paul McCartney and Kanye West, Bitch Better Have My Money, and American Oxygen.  From an exclusive video available only on TIDAL – it shows how much work and dedication Rihanna put into Bitch Better Have Money. It’s very strange for it not to end up on the album. The album might have gone through numerous sounds, changes and directions before settling on what we have here, though I personally would have liked to hear more of Trap RiRi.

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Rihanna in-studio recording Bitch Better Have My Money (Screencap from TIDAL)
Production on ANTI is insane, and that’s due to having some of the best producers in music on board. Long time Rihanna collaborator, Kuk Harrell, produces eight of thirteen tracks on the album. Other producers and composers include Jeff Bhasker, Detail (Noel Fisher), J. Glass, TimbalandTravis Scott, DJ Mustard, and many more.  Like her other albums, Rihanna doesn’t rely on too many features – ANTI has two features in SZA and Drake.

The first track, Consideration features TDE’s own SZA. When the track opens up and you hear that deep bass line and Rihanna comes in blaring “I came fluttering in from Neverland” – you get the feeling Rihanna hasn’t missed a step.  Consideration breaks down Rihanna’s career on how she wants to do things her own way and not take orders from higher ups. This could be directed to the industry executives and the media bugging her about when ANTI was going to be released. At one point during the chorus, both Rihanna and SZA simultaneous sing “You should just let me/Will you ever respect me? No” – it sounds incredible. Great choice for the intro track – as it sets the tone for the first half of the album.

ANTI features three interlude tracks, James Joint, Yeah, I Said It, and Higher. It absolutely works for this album, as each seamlessly fades into the next upcoming song/chapter on the album. Higher finds Rihanna drunk on whiskey, voice cracking, and belting out “You take me higher, higher than I’ve ever been”. It’s one interlude that should be made into a longer track.

Kiss It Better  is a guitar heavy centric common tale of someone who has just ended a relationship, but wants their ex-love back. The production and Rihanna’s voice on this track gives off that stadium status feel. I imagine this song will be a show-stealer at her upcoming ANTI World Tour.

Desperado, has a very western/outlaw feel to it – lyrics and production wise. Rihanna takes the role of the “lone wolf”, who wants to get away with her love, no matter the repercussions. This would have to be my favorite track off ANTI.

If you are familiar with Travis Scott’s work, you can clearly hear his influence on the track Woo. The guitar riff that doesn’t change up, works incredible with Rihanna’s distorted voice exclaiming “send for me” to the one who left her in the past. Travis does make an appearance, chanting throughout the track “woo, woo, yeah”. This without a doubt will be bumping throughout the year.

Needed me is one of the realist (and coldest tracks) on ANTI. Rihanna doesn’t hold back. Deep bass and dark synths accompany Rihanna while she recounts on false love and why she didn’t need them, but instead they needed her. “But baby, don’t get it twisted/ You was just another n**** on the hit list” are just a few jabs Rihanna throws throughout the track. This is one of the more stellar tracks on the album.

Same Ol’ Mistakes is of course a cover of Tame Impala’s New Person, Same Old Mistakes. Rihanna adds her own twist on the song – her voice is very faded, while the instrumental is loud, sometime over shadowing her. I believe this was intentional as this can be considered a groove track – it works for this album.

I always found Rihanna’s voice to shine through on slower tempo songs, and it does just that on the tracks toward the end of the album.

Love on the Brain is a powerful ballad with an old school feel that even comes complete with background singer vocals. Rihanna experiments with a much more raspy voice during verses and then breaks out with a loud and electrifying “It must be Love on the Brain” during the chorus. The range of her voice on this track is insane.

The deluxe version of ANTI comes with three bonus tracks – Goodnight Gotham, Pose, and Sex with Me. Goodnight Gotham is very short – it sounds like a huge intro to a show or concert. Pose sounds like a continuation of Phresh Out the Runway from 2012’s Unapologetic. Rihanna is yelling out lyrics non-stop, while the beat is everywhere on this track, not one solid sound. Pose even samples the iPhone sent text message tone – a lot of great production went into this. Sex with Me is just that, Rihanna explains what’s it’s like to spend some romantic time with her.

ANTI is an album that experiments and flows great with some out of the ordinary  music from Rihanna. As stated, with each album, Rihanna elevates her game and brings something different each time. Some may be upset by the lack of party/radio/up-tempo singles, but if you go into this album expecting something totally different from the norm from Rihanna, you will be quite satisfied. ANTI showcases some of Rihanna’s real and raw work to date.

– Journalist Without A Beat


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