It was Thursday and the world lost its chill. Not because a world-changing event had happened, but because Rihanna, who used to poop out an album every other week, finally dropped the elusive ANTI. For a long time, people even wondered if the album existed at all. Of course, RiRI gave us Bitch better have my money which we gratefully sang whenever we were stopping by thatonefriendeverybodyhas’ house to reclaim the 10 bucks they borrowed.
Apart from that, nobody knew anything about when the album would drop, if it would be any good or how the ANTI album campaign would be handled. We got all these answers on Thursday.
Fixing the damage
To start with the latter, the campaign has been a mess. Tidal, the project Jay-Z launched
to get more moneyz to enhance the experience of listening to music, launched the album before it was supposed to launch. People downloaded it, spread it around the internet and then Tidal thought “Well, we are screwed now anyway!” So the album was put on the site as a free download including a free 60-day Tidal Membership. Because when you’ve already made a mess, you can at least try to fix the damage you have done, right? Right.
But was the album worth it? Did it cause all of us to scream with joy, thanking the lawd that Rihanna was back to grace us peasants with her sick beats again? The response was mixed. While Rihanna fans were praising her for the new direction she took with this album, the rest of us were kind of staring at our computer screen in confusion. Did Rihanna, princess of pop, maker of hits, really release an album that is this, well strange?
Popstar vs. Indie Artist
And I get it. Rihanna doesn’t care about what we all think. Rihanna always does whatever the hell she wants and if she wants to make a super artistic album, she will. I was just slightly disappointed when I listened to the album that there were no clear hits. There wasn’t that familiar “YASS SLAY ME” song that made me want to get up and dance. In fact, there are virtually no songs on the album that are club-bangers. And yes, an artist should evolve and yes they shouldn’t always do the same thing they have been doing for ages already. But I guess that we get used to these big pop stars and they always deliver what we expect of them.
That is the downside of being a big popstar as opposed to an indie artist. The public expects something from you and if you do something that is too different, it might chase the casual fans away. Some might think this is a good thing, but you cannot fill arenas with just hardcore fans. You need the casual fans to buy that concert ticket just as much as you need the hardcore fans who will see your show regardless of what you put out.
Bring back the old Rihanna
So I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I first listened to ANTI and many were with me on that. I think the issue is not that Rihanna does something different. I guess the problem is that mid-tempo songs are not Rihanna’s strenght and the album consists of mostly mid-tempo songs. Rihanna does ballads well, Close To You is a prime example of that. There are barely any artists who can tip Rihanna when it comes to up tempo songs but there are none of these kinds of songs on the album. I think it would have been better if there was more diversity.
And at times I feel like Rihanna is just screwing around with us. I think Rihanna can really sing, but when I listen to a song such as Higher, I think “Didn’t anybody tell her this sounds like shit?” Shouting and straining your voice is not a good strategy and not that artistic.
I guess what it comes down to is that I either will not like this album, or that it will grow on me. And regardless of that, Rihanna will not care as her song Work is number one on Itunes in a gazillion countries. I just hope that with the next album, we will get a glimpse of the old Rihanna again.