In case you missed it, island sounds are big right now. But Rihanna’s an originator and when her occasionally druggy, ever confident reggae blues is mixed with a particular blend of trap and electronic influences that the clubs and the kids alike can’t avoid the result is highly enjoyable. However, this is not exactly that. Last week Rihanna finally dropped her latest ANTI, and it’s got variety. Clocking under 45 minutes for 13 tracks means you go places, and when you’re done it seems to have gone by fast like all good things do.
I can’t speak to how much better or worse ANTI is compared to previous Rihanna albums. Having gone to college at the same time as Rihanna’s ascension, her popularity and knack for hit records makes it nearly impossible to not be at least familiar with her. And while I don’t doubt her ability to market quite a few singles from ANTI, it doesn’t immediately seem to have tracks geared toward mainstream appeal. Which is a good thing as music designed to speak to the masses (see: Macklemore) has a way of getting annoying fast, and I don’t sense much of that here.
Instead you come away with a sense that this album, ending the longest album release drought of her career, is as earnestly well written by Rihanna with a shrewd selection collaborators and producers such as Jeff Bhasker and Boi-1da, as well as Hit-Boy and Travis Scott on “Woo” — but that’s the case with all Rihanna albums. On the decidedly more R&B back side of ANTI: DJ Mustard assists on the excellent “Needed Me”, followed by a cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”, but “Higher” produced by No I.D might actually be the album’s height.
The two toned approach to the album works quite well. It starts off with a bang with the other best song on the album, “Consideration” featuring SZA, and ends with the very melodic helping of soul food, “Close to You”. The bonus tracks are nothing to frown at either which is, well, a nice bonus (sorry) and not all that common.
The lead single from Anti is “Work” featuring Drake, and while whether or not it was created with the mainstream in mind is debatable, it’s a jam and is sure to be in rotation just about everywhere through the Summer. You can stream ANTI over on Tidal, purchase on iTunes, or otherwise acquire the album from the Internet to get the full experience.
Update: ANTI is on Spotify.