As they say, the Rihanna reign just won’t let up.
With 11 number one singles under her belt, Rihanna readies the release of her seventh studio album Unapologetic for Monday, November 19th. While I could not bring my heart to love her last effort ‘Talk That Talk’, maybe the new LP can recapture my faith.
Rihanna pulled some huge names for the production of Unapologetic, including the likes of David Guetta, No I.D., Ne-Yo, The-Dream, Sia, and a plethora of other artists.
How did all of their efforts fare? Let’s dive into The Honesty Hour’s track-by-track review of Rihanna’s new album, beginning with “Phresh Out the Runway”.
Phresh Out the Runway
Unapologetic opens with this cocky, urban-flavored track. Rihanna sets the mood of the album with energy and confidence, boasting, “How could you be so hood/ But you so f–king pop?/ How could you be so fun/ And sound like you selling rocks?” While some may be drawn to its catchiness, there is too much going on. However, this makes a great workout song. 2/5
“Diamonds” is the lead single from Unapologetic, and its success (peaking at number 2 on the Hot 100) has given Rihanna a promising start to her new era. Simple and free-flowing, “Diamonds” is beautiful song that is easy to sing along to and is relatively different from the trendy music Rihanna typically releases. 3.5/5
Numb (feat. Eminem)
Eminem assists on Rihanna’s “Numb” and although his verse is pretty solid, it does not help the song much. Basically, this song is Rihanna singing, “I’m going numb/ I’m going numb” repeatedly on the hook, and it sort of makes me numb. It’s not exactly a bad song, but it just doesn’t have all the “meat” it needs. 2.5/5
Pour It Up
Rihanna gets a little ratchet on “Pour It Up”, a mid-tempo urban track that is perfect for the strip clubs (I’d assume). The singer is still as confident as ever, rapping, “All I see is dollar signs/ Money, money on my mind/ Throw it, throw it up/ Watch it fall from the sky.” Who doesn’t like being ratchet sometimes? 3.5/5
Loveeeee Song (feat. Future)
I’m going to get this out of the way and say I don’t really know who Future is, but he joins Rihanna on this dirty-dance-inducing song. The beat on “Loveeeee” is slow and reclined, while the pair sings lovingly to each other. 3/5
Rihanna fuses pop and R&B together seamlessly on “Jump”, sampling 90s singer Ginuwine’s “Pony” in the chorus. Ms. Fenty is ready and willing as she demands, “If you want it/ Let’s do it/ Ride it/ My pony/ My saddle is ready/ Come and jump on it.” This song is definitely a contender to be a single. Really, it would smash on urban radio and Top 40. 4/5
Right Now (feat. David Guetta)
While the demo of “Right Now” featuring vocals from Ne-Yo surfaced this summer, Rihanna snatched this David Guetta track right up and put her name on it. The bass-heavy dance anthem is perfect for the clubbing folk, and I’d expect to see the song shimmy all the way up the Dance/Club Play Songs chart. 3/5
What’s that I hear? Rihanna is trying to step up her vocal game?! “What Now” changes up the pace of the album, getting slower, emotional and vulnerable. Rihanna pours her heart out on this ballad and its a great reminder that she actually sings. 4/5
Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko)
Another emotional ballad, Rihanna continues to open up and show her soft side. I really love how her and Mikky’s voices blend on the record, and I’m glad Rihanna doesn’t try anything too fancy by staying within her range. I wish the harmonies were perfected a tad more, but it’ll do for now. 3.5/5
Nobody’s Business (feat. Chris Brown)
Clearly, Rihanna knows that controversy has been helpful in her career, so why stop it now? For the third time this year, the singer collaborates with her “friend” Chris Brown and they are letting you know that their relationship is nobody’s business. Sampling Michael Jackson, Rihanna and Chris balance each other on the electrifying “Business.” But, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t Chris’ song by the time it was over. 4/5
Love without Tragedy / Mother Mary
Another old-school-inspired track, Rihanna coos,”what’s love without tragedy,” as the beat pulsates in the background. Suddenly, things get even slower with “Mother Mary” and it makes me sad for a second. It sounds cute, but boring. 3/5
Get It Over With
Lalala, I am bored with this one, too. It sounds pretty interesting but I’m not that used to these slow songs from Rihanna. I am ready to…well, get it over with. To be fair, she sounds lovely. Who is the mystery male singing background vocals? Is it Chr..nevermind. 3/5
No Love Allowed
A Rihanna album would not be complete without a Caribbean-eque track that highlights her unique twang (i.e. “Man Down”, “Watch n’ Learn”). This song is very relaxing and reminds me that I am due for a vacation. 3/5
Lost in Paradise
The album is winding down and “Lost in Paradise” carries us home from a wild night out. Still, Rihanna finds herself at a crossroad in her love life but fortunately, the thumping beat is drowning her sorrows. A nice ending to a solid project and I’m impressed. 3.5/5
Refill: “Jump,” “Nobody’s Business”
Refund: “Phresh Out the Runway,” “Numb”
In sum, I enjoyed Rihanna’s effort this time around. While Unapologetic was just as rushed as her last album Talk That Talk, this one seemed more coherent and polished. I feel that Rihanna is on to something here. There is a bit more substance here than there has been since her ‘Rated R’ and I can tell that she is finally maturing musically.
Really, it seems like her best material comes at times when she is intertwined in sticky love situations.
Before we conclude, I just have one small question: How come Rihanna neither wrote nor co-wrote a single song on the album? Okay, let’s not ruin the moment. Total: 3/5