Rihanna - 'Unapologetic' Track-by-Track Album Review | The Honesty Hour

Rihanna – ‘Unapologetic’ Track-by-Track Album Review

Rihanna – ‘Unapologetic’ Track-by-Track Album Review

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 Now
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


    My problem with Rihanna in general is her music is constantly rushed .Their is a way to put out great material yearly and not lose your integrity as an artist.I like Lost In Paradise,No Love Allowed, and Stay.No Bodies Business is ok,I can’t the vocal ballads though.All in all I like the songs I listed but, the album as whole is nothing special and will be easily forgotten.But if her Navy loves her strip-club inspired then music who am I to judge.

    • Malachi

      Thanks for reading, Olivia. Your comments made me crack up. Lol.

  • Elizabeth

    This is a pretty solid review– I generally agree. I personally felt that power it up was more a grower (and would have given it a slightly lower rating), I’m really commenting to express my INCREDIBLE love for Love Without Tragedy – Mother Mary. It’s easily the standout track from the album for me, and while it’s not made for radio at 7 minutes, that just means I get 7 minutes of fabulousness.

    As a whole, this album was an interesting divergence for Rihanna– a lot of sampling (The Police, Michael Jackson, and Ginuwine… possibly more I didn’t pick up on) gave an interesting variety.

    I also have trouble with the fact that she has literally zero writing credits on this album– it feels personal, and is dealing with things that SOUND like they’re personal… but she isn’t the one who wrote them. Her lack of contribution to her music is consistently the most disappointing thing I find in her as an artist.

    • Malachi

      Thanks for your input! We think similarly and I can definitely understand your views.

    • eve

      Yes Rihanna has no writing credits on the album but she put together a talented team of writers who she knows and in return know her very much.



  • amarosa van RiRi

    i love the album and natn to add may b i can rate the album by 4.3, hhahaaaaa

  • xedos

    Rush or not she’s still able to produce better music than most who took years to put out an album. she still set the trend she don’t follow she leads.

  • ME

    I think you did a very fair review. I agree with most of your points. I think she still has a lot of growth to do in her music. Hopefully, this will come in time. Good job!

    • Malachi

      Thank you!

  • xedos

    We need to get over who write what songs. Whitney, Elvis or Frank Sinatra never wrote any of their songs. may be that’s why they have hits upon hits. they leave the song writing to song writers. they concentrate on interpret the songs.

    • Malachi

      Hm, that’s somewhat true. But, I’m not too concerned with those artists as they have all proved themselves as “artists” versus just singing whatever will sound nice on radio.

  • moneymania

    rihana is the best musician i will ever love i always adhere wit her lyrics in every of her track. i love you so much keep ruling the world. cheers to the freaken weekend and drinks to dat @all rihana’s fan

  • Vv

    The Male vocalist on “Get it over with” is James Fauntleroy.He’s the original singer of Frank Oceans “fertilizer”. He has a few mixtapes out under the name Cocaine 80’s.He is an incredible artist and I cant wait to hear more from him. This wasnt to take anything away from Rihannas lp either..I love it.Best Lp thus far and quite versatile compared to the rock out bad ass Rih that we’re used to hearing.She opened up more in more ways that one on this record. #Unapologetic on #Repeat

    • Malachi

      Thanks for letting me know!

  • Eli

    I like this review. It was very well thought out and you actually didn’t just go saying it sucked or it was sooooo good. I like that you did track by track and really stated an opinion from the view point of an average listener, not just someone from her navy or whatever she calls it. I for one enjoy some of her music when I feel like dancing or working out. I never once felt like I could go to her music to help me with bad times in a relationship or life. Maybe that’s not what she’s going for. I really don’t know but it seems with her ballads she’s going for lyrical depth and it just didnt work for me. She said this was her most personal album to date and that’s what I have an issue with. Not one song was written or co written by her so I don’t get how this is “personal” I just believe she is so caught up with trying to be a bad girl. The album was so rushed and I just feel if she sat down and helped write this album could’ve been really good. Jump is honestly the only song I can listen to. Sad, but true. It’s catchy and helps me workout. Phresh out the runway? What the hell was that? Honestly worst song she ever put out. Again. My opinion. But hey this whole pop thing is a joke to me anyways. Not trying to compare her to Beyoncè(like everyone else does) but her albums are always so solid because she puts time and effort into them, I just thought with Rihanna being mentored by Jay-Z some of the work ethic into putting together an album would have rubbed off on her. And her performances are just mediocre too. I definitely won’t be buying a ticket to her new world tour because I’ve seen her in concert. Little kids look up to her and she just curses and touches her vagina all the time. Not cool. But overall this album was mediocre to me but people will buy it of course because she’s Rihanna so good luck to her with the success she receives. Hopefully the next time she can catch my attention again like she did with Loud.

    • Malachi

      Whoa, you’ve said a mouthful! I tried my best to give a fair, honest review. Like you said, it really doesn’t make sense that this album is supposed to be her most personal album when she didn’t even help write them.

      Her on-stage persona and abilities as a performer are a long story that I can’t even fathom explaining. I’m glad that she is proud of her new album, but she still has a lot to prove.

      Thank you for reading,

  • Alyssa

    She co-wrote ten of the tracks….

    • Malachi

      According to Wikipedia, yes. According to the album credits in the CD booklet, no.

      • Tiffany

        She herself said she co-wrote 10 songs and that it was a first for her to have that kind of involvement in the writing process. I think it shows very much. Many of the songs are very personal.


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