Rihanna – ‘Anti’

Rihanna is a consistent album artist that has been releasing albums annually years since 2005, it is safe to say she is rarely off the music radar yet her eighth studio album ANTI is still highly intriguing.
After it accidently appeared on Tidal hours before it was supposed to arrive online, we can’t help but wonder if it was some sort of odd publicity stunt or if it was genuinely an almighty glitch. Either way the muddled launch somehow fits with ANTI itself, confusing yet bold.
There is no time to settle into it before ‘Consideration’ (featuring SZA) smacks you in the face. Sonics so punchy and harmonies as tight as a fist. The first line “I came fluttering in from Neverland” references liberty and escapism, this is fluent not only in this track, but throughout the entirety of the album. “I got to do things my own way darling,” states Rihanna, wanting more artistic control over her music.
‘Consideration’ features bass lines from Common’s- ‘Be(Intro)’ a hip-hop rap single produced by Kayne West. Rihanna experiments with a large amount of sampling in ANTI. The ballad ‘Love On The Brain’ samples Al Green’s ‘For the Good Times’ and the stimulating, hallucinogenic “Same Ol Mistakes” taken from Tame Impala’s “Same Person, Same Old Mistakes.”
ANTI feels more authentic and humble. The album artwork reveals a lot about the temperament of the album. A blurry child Rihanna with a gold crown hindering her eyes and holding a balloon. According to artist Roy Nachum, the crown is a “metaphor to appreciate the small things in life.” The balloon; a metaphor for escaping reality.
In contrast, the erotic ‘Work’ appears a less emotional track at first. It still has an exposed, lust fuelled narrative that possesses a tenderness that Rihanna’s recent work has lacked, while the Bajan patois intertwines with the vivacious tropical beat.
The album parallels to Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ in places, with the 1 minute songs and hallucinatory ambience with soothing elevator type background music, specifically with the midi track ‘James Joint’. Its production is remarkably distinctive, heavily sonorous, crammed with peculiar touches.
Throughout the album Rihanna’s vocals are far more exposed. She has swapped the pop heavy albums for ANTI that provides a magnified listen to her talent. In ‘Higher’ her voice has a blatant smoky quality and a very distinctive tone. This track has a ‘50s doo-wop feel that is similar to further contemporary artists like Amy Winehouses’ “Wake Up Alone”. Rihanna is no stranger to experimentation when it comes to her ever-changing appearance but ANTI is the first time we’ve seen her really experiment with music genre. ‘Kiss It Better’ possessing alternative rock influences and many tracks are a racier R&B.
Known for her attitude and spirited persona, Rihanna feeds her ego into both ‘Desperado’ and the 6th track ‘Woo’ that was co-written by Travis and The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye, where the dirty bass fired by the overly auto tuned vocals generate a hostile track that is Rihanna addressing an ex.
Multiple references of drugs and alcohol are made
throughout. Rihanna hardly keeps it a secret that she enjoys
getting high but the album seems excessive. Rihanna’s father was addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol so the singer may have been exposed to substance abuse in her childhood. Is ANTI an expression of abusing substances? ‘Higher’ narrates “this whisky got me feeling pretty”. The whole album appears quite drunk and blurry, yet personal and courageous all the same.

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